UFC welterweight contender Demian Maia has finally been promised a title shot. He did so without talking trash, and that’s just fine with him.
Demian Maia walked away from UFC 211 with another welterweight win. This one was the biggest since he dropped from middleweight in 2012 because it locked up a likely title shot against 170-pound title holder Tyron Woodley.
The road to title contention hasn’t been an easy one. Much of that path — if not all — has been against some of the best the division has to offer. Wins over the likes of Matt Brown, Carlos Condit, and as of Saturday night Jorge Masvidal have propelled Maia into a position that some say he should have been in long ago.
“I’ve been in this division for 12 fights,” he said during the UFC 211 post-fight press conference. “I’ve won 10 fights, and almost all of those fights have been against top-15 and top-10 competitors.”
Without question, Maia’s climb up the rankings has come through hard work and beating formidable opponents who could have stopped the jiu-jitsu expert’s rise. But they didn’t, and now Maia is a No. 1 contender through sheer skill and without subscribing to the belief that one must talk trash to get to the top.
While others have been able to utilize tremendous mic skills in promoting themselves, Maia hasn’t desired (or needed) that approach. For him, it’s a matter of not selling out, applying a different set of principles for the fight game.
“I’m not going to sell myself just because I want to be a champion or just because I want to make more money,” he said. “I am who I am and I’m a role model for a lot of people, and for my kids.
“I’m not going to change … A lot of people came to me (and said) ‘you need to trash talk’ and this kind of thing. That’s not me … I have my principles. I’d rather die than change my principles.”
At UFC 211, Maia beat a fighter who was largely considered the hitman hired to take him out and stop his trek towards contention. After getting past Masvidal, Maia gestured toward UFC President Dana White and signaled for a title shot. White granted him the shot and now he expects to face Woodley next.
But there’s a funny thing about those promised title shots — sometimes promises are broken. History has shown that even though White has guaranteed fighters positions as the next in line, those same contenders have been passed up for alternative match-ups. While doubt may loom over his head about whether White will follow through on his word, all Maia can do is believe that long-sought title fight is coming.
“What can I do? I must believe,” he said when asked if he believes White sees him as the next in line for the belt. “Like I said, I [won] seven in a row. Who else has done that in this division? Just ‘Wonderboy?’
“I’m pretty confident that what Dana said is going to happen.”