Demian Maia has been one of the most consistently successful welterweights since debuting in Ultimate Fighting Championship in October of 2007, but such performances have not yielded much in the way of title contention.
Maia is on a six-fight winning streak, including submission finishes via a rear naked choke in his last four outings, and despite going three years without a loss, he has not been granted a title shot since April 10, 2010. Instead, champion Tyron Woodley was forced to take a rematch with Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in the main event of UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, tonight.
“Unfortunately, the sport of mixed martial arts has turned into where fans want to see you get knocked the hell out and cut open and in these wars,” Woodley said. “They don’t respect his art. He’s one of the best grapplers in the UFC right now, and they don’t respect his art that he brings to the table.”
Although Maia has been finishing his most recent fights, he had seven straight decisions and 10 in a 12-bout span from February 6, 2010 to March 21, 2015.
Woodley, who won five of his first seven fights since joining the UFC, had to wait nearly 16 months between earning a spilt decision win over Kelvin Gastelum and defeating Robbie Lawler by a first-round knockout at UFC 201 to win the welterweight championship of the world.
“The fans are really in more control than they realize,” Woodley said. “If they want to see a fight, there’s a chance that that fight might happen. If they have shown in pay-per-view buys and attendance and whatever, in social-media posts, they don’t respect the grappler.
“They did the same thing with Jake Shields. Jake Shields has victories over me, he has victories over Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, and the list goes on, Carlos Condit, and he’s a guy that people just didn’t like his style and didn’t want to watch. It’s mixed martial arts.”
Known as “The Chosen One,” Woodley made good on his first championship opportunity and knocked out now former welterweight titlist Robbie Lawler at the 2:48 mark of the first round in the main event bout of UFC 201 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, last July.
After both fighters measured up their opponents in the early going, Woodley faked a left-handed punch and then, fired a sharp right hand that landed flush on the left side of Lawler’s face. The defending champion was clearly stunned and fell backward against the cage, which left open an opportunity to finish the fight.
Woodley did not waste a second, as he shot in and landed five straight punches with his right hand to Lawler’s face before the referee stepped in and called a stop to the championship bout.
“No one says, ‘Hey, this guy is striking too much. Why don’t Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ go for a takedown? Why don’t he go for a submission? Why don’t he grapple against the cage?’” Woodley said.
“No. They want to see the striking. They want to see creative spinning attacks. That’s what our society wants to see, so unfortunately for those guys, they didn’t take the time to really perfect their striking. If I would’ve done the same thing, I would’ve just been a wrestler, but I perfected my striking to the point where my wrestling is really in my back pocket.”