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Usman Looking To Put Division On Notice Vs Maia

Kamaru Usman lands a punch on Sean Strickland during a MMA bout at UFC 210

Kamaru Usman has claimed that he is the “most avoided fighter in the UFC,” and it is easy to see why. The Nigerian Nightmare is 12-1, has some of the best wrestling in the UFC and has ridiculous athleticism. But Usman will see a big step up in competition for his next bout, the UFC Chile main event against former title challenger Demian Maia on May 19.

  • Demian Maia has not landed a takedown in either of his last two fights – both of which were losses.
  • Maia has only been an underdog of +300 or more once in his career – at UFC 112 vs Anderson Silva on April 10, 2010.
  • Kamaru Usman has landed 5 or more takedowns in 4 of his 7 UFC fights.

Usman will enter his first main event riding an 11-fight winning streak and as a -400 heavy favorite according to Bovada. Though Usman is undefeated in the UFC, the competition level has not exactly been top-tier. He has beaten good but not great fighters while waiting for his big chance to prove himself.

If Usman gets his hands on you, it’s basically over. His mixture of wrestling technique, grinding nature and pure power means that if Usman gets control of you, he can basically do what he wants. That’s not to say he can’t strike – he actually has some really nice combinations – but there is no doubt he wants to use his strikes to move forward and initiate the clinch.  

Maia enters this fight on short notice after he opted to fill in for an injured Santiago Ponzinibbio. This is not the best stylistic matchup for Maia but the fourth-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is 40 years old and is coming off two losses to elite welterweights – and there is no doubt that he sees the writing on the wall. His career is winding down and if he wants to stay among the elite in the division, he will need to take fights like this to try to stay near the top of the ranks.

Of course, Maia wants to bring the fight to the ground where he can utilize his ridiculously good submission skills. The rest of his game is basically built to initiate grappling exchanges to get the fight to his territory. However, Maia’s takedown defense is far from perfect and can be suffocated by great grapplers.