Welterweight contender Kamaru Usman remained unbeaten inside the octagon on Saturday and picked up the biggest win of his career. The “Nigerian Nightmare” defeated No. 5 ranked Demian Maia by unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Night 129 main event in a one-sided fight.
Usman was originally slated to face Santiago Ponzinibbio, but on April 21 Ponzinibbio was forced out of the bout due to injury. Maia stepped up on four-weeks notice but couldn’t get the job done.
Maia’s strategy is always to get his opponent to the ground where he can implement his world-class jiu-jitsu skills. He caught a kick in the opening round and secured a takedown but was unable to keep Usman grounded. He desperately tried to take Usman down throughout the five-round fight but Usman’s takedown defense proved too much to overcome.
Usman pressured Maia and was able to out-strike the 40-year-old Brazilian. In the early going of the fourth frame, Usman dropped Maia with a right hand but was unable to put the Sao Paulo native away.
After the opening round, each round played out pretty much the same. Maia looking for takedowns and Usman stuffing the attempts. During the course of the fight, Usman believes that he broke both of his hands.
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“Nothing but respect for Demian Maia, a legend in the game. It was an honor to come in here and compete with him. No excuses, but I think I broke my right hand in the second. I wasn’t letting it go as much, and I broke the left one in the third. It’s just to let everybody know,” said Usman following the fight.
“He’s got a hard head. I hit him a couple of times in the head. I felt the right one go early, but the left one came after. He’s got a hard head. He does a good job of blocking punches with the frontal lobe and it hurt.”
Defeating Maia was Usman’s biggest career win and advanced his unbeaten record inside the UFC cage to 8-0. The rising star addressed his crtics during his post-fight interview.
“For the longest everybody was talking about I haven’t fought a top ten guy. That’s a legend that’s been in the game. Two-time title challenger and I just dominated him from start to finish,” he said.
Maia was ranked No. 5 heading into the bout. The loss was his third in a row. Usman usually calls out an opponent after a win but decided to take a different route on Saturday.
“I’m tired of calling people out and not getting what I ask for, so I’m not calling nobody out. They need to come fight me. Everybody knows since I got in the game my social media handle has never changed. Welterweight, and I’m coming for that gold strap,” he said.