If this was in ADCC I’d be much more excited for this fight. As it is this is a terrific matchup and the under the radar fight that could wind up winning fight of the night.
Fight Breakdown: If you could eliminate striking from this fight it’d be a fun no-gi grappling match between the best grinder in the game against the best sport BJJ practitioner in the sport. As it is we probably won’t see a lot of striking from these two as this should be a grappling clinic.
Fitch’s style is to use a crafty boxing game to set up his takedowns. Once on top he grinds out rounds by using smothering top control, strong submission defense and an effective ground and pound game. He’s the ultimate grinder in MMA; if you can stop him from getting that takedown you can win. His striking is effective but he won’t be entering any striking contests in the near future; his game is out there and he dares people to try and stop him.
Unfortunately most people haven’t.
Maia’s game is similar in that he wants to get the fight to the ground as soon as he can. As a middleweight he fell in love with kick-boxing, as he kept running into fighters who he couldn’t get down, but at welterweight he’s become this BJJ machine again. He’ll pull guard and do anything he can to make this a ground game and for good reason: he’s probably the best BJJ practitioner currently in MMA. Only a handful of fighters have his BJJ accolades and it’s a scary proposition to get him to the ground. One only has to look at Rick Story getting choked so hard blood spurted out to see how devastating Maia can be.
Fitch is good enough in the ground to nullify Maia’s guard, which is sickeningly good, and this fight could go one of two ways. The first would be a grappling match to top them all, only with some striking. The other is Maia-Weidman, which was like two sloppy drunks fighting at a bar at 2am.
The key will be urgency. Fitch has been fighting like his world depends on it and Maia has come out like his family’s being held hostage unless he chokes someone out. Two guys who are fighting with crazy intensity to get their ground game in order could make for a heckuva war.
Why It Matters: Demian Maia was a failed middleweight contender who seemingly has found new life in the welterweight division. Jon Fitch is a welterweight stalwart, arguably the second best in a division where there’s a clear distinction between its champion (Georges St. Pierre) and everyone else (Fitch Included). But neither guy is that far removed from another chance at GSP which is why it’s so interesting: this fight could wind up being a de facto title eliminator if certain fights swing in a different way than expected.