Time gets to you.
Your muscles, your joints, worn to a frazzle. Your mind aches, and you wonder if you can bear the realities you’ve faced for another moment.
For many, that is the realities of watching Demian Maia’s career. Some call it continuity; some say enough already.
Demian Maia’s ground game has kept him around a while longer than most would expect him to be. He’s masterful at his assertion, but, he nails a brick wall every now and again, and, surely, one’s going to put an end to this convoluted journey soon enough. You win one, you lose one, and the 37-year-old Maia has taken all of his victories and recurrent setbacks with the grace you would expect of him.
Still, he’s not exactly progressing. Besides being 37, Maia has found himself dependent on his grappling skills, and his ability to pin and control his opponents from top position. His goal isn’t always to advance but to just maintain. Perhaps, that is the colophon of his eight-year, nineteen-fight existence in the UFC. One title shot, and a three-fight win streak being his best. Maia is incredibility talented, but always falls short, and, oftentimes, fails to appease the masses. He stands front and center on Saturday night against 11-0 Ryan LaFlare.
Ryan LaFlare, based out of New York, will be ready for the spotlight. He’s 4-0 in the UFC, and has already fought outside of the United States four times since being signed by the UFC.
LaFlare, 31, has effective striking technique, and has been proven to hold his own on the ground. He hasn’t fought against the level of opposition Maia has, but did manage to defeat Santiago Ponzinibbio, an Argentinian hopeful, in Brazil, and also has wins over a pair of heralded veterans in Court McGee and John Howard.
He isn’t a pushover for Maia. This is still a steep hill to climb for LaFlare, but one that would perhaps put the title picture in his trajectory over the next year. He has already inched his way into the top fifteen at Welterweight. A win over Maia, #7, might offer him a fight or two at home. A fight or two where people aren’t doubting him.
Similarly, Maia needs to coax the MMA world for his next — last — title run. Maia has no room for dispute or friction. He needs to be accepted by the MMA fan base if he hopes to get the call for title shot. At 170, it’s a three-man circus between Champion Robbie Lawler, #1 Johnny Hendricks (1-1 against Robbie Lawler), and Canada’s Rory MacDonald (0-1 against Lawler). Maia needs to make his move if he wants to motion towards the title picture before it is too late. That time is not now — he proved it with a complete domination of Alexander Yakovlev — but the clock doesn’t tick any slower on his career than any other.
Now is the time to strike, excite, before the pendulum can swing back and forth no longer.
Demian Maia’s last chance? Ryan LaFlare’s coming out party? We’ll just have to wait and find out at UFC Fight Night!
UFC Fight Night 62 takes place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Fox Sports 1 will televise.