There was a long stretch in the UFC career of Jon Fitch where he dominated just about every welterweight on the UFC roster. Fitch would take down his opponents at will and work them over with ground strikes while maintaining dominant position throughout each contest. This would bore a lot of fans in attendance and watching at home while earning Fitch a reputation that he'll never shake as a "boring" fighter.
Demian Maia was able to beat Fitch at his own game on Saturday night by employing the same game plan B.J. Penn used against him during their fight in Sydney back in 2011. The difference here was that Maia was the larger man and cardio isn't an issue for the BJJ mastermind.
Significant strikes weren't really a factor here and never really are in Jon Fitch type fights. Maia landed 63 of 74 total strikes at a 85% clip which isn't really that difficult when you are glued to you're opponent for the duration of the fight. Fitch went 36 for 55 for 65%. Maia hit 7 of his 17 take downs while Fitch wasn't even able to attempt one on the former Middleweight #1 contender. Maia passed Fitch's guard 5 times.
Maia improves to 18-4 in his professional mixed martial arts career, 3-0 at Welterweight, after earning a 30-27 decision on all three of the judges scorecards. Fitch falls to 24-5-1. He's gone 1-2-1 in his last four fights after going 21-1 in his previous 22.
What's Next?: For Maia it's simple. On March 18th Johny Hendricks will battle Jake Ellenberger just before Carlos Condit takes on Rory MacDonald. If Hendricks wins he gets a title shot. That leaves Ellenberger, Condit and MacDonald. One of those men will be given the gift of Demian Maia should they emerge victorious. The tougher question is what do you do with Jon Fitch? An impressive win would've put him right back into the title hunt in the 170 pound division. Only winning one fight in his last four puts the long time perennial number two guy in a strange position. Do you put him against someone in a similar position. Or maybe you give him a fighter on a three-fight winning streak that is still currently ranked below him like Mike Pyle or Mike Pierce. I'd like to see him get the winner or loser of Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Dong Hyun Kim. The fight takes place next month in Saitama and regardless of the outcome it's a great challenge for Fitch to either get back on track or put either Siyar or Kim into the top 10.
Video: Highlights: UFC 156: Maia - Fitch
photo credit - demianmaia.com