Demian Maia (Pictures)
debuted in the UFC in October
2007 with an impressive first-round submission of Ryan Jensen (Pictures)
. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black
belt returns to the Octagon April 19 in Canada for a middleweight
bout against Ed Herman
Sherdog.com spoke with Maia about that match and the future of the
185-pound weight class.
When the fight against
Ed Herman (Pictures) started as a rumor on the
Internet, the fans generally only talked about you finishing him.
How do you see this situation?
Well, I don't follow
forums and this Internet stuff. But I think Herman is a good
fighter. He's not weak or something like that. He's a dangerous
fighter and he developed a lot from his first fight to his last
one. If I'm not wrong, I think the North American fans don't like
Herman at all. I'm not sure. So perhaps due to this fact, they
picked me to beat him. If we're talking about Herman, he's good.
Taller than me, with a good wrestling base and very tough to be
Now that you know about
the discussion, is this good for you or not?
For me it doesn't influence. When
I step in the Octagon is when I'll see what will happen. But for
Herman this can influence him in two distinct aspects. I mean he
can use it to train more and more, to show that he can win. Or, on
the other hand, he could reach the Octagon mentally weak. I believe
more in the first option. Anyway, in the moment of the fight, what
people have said before won't prevail. I already watched several
MMA fights where the 100-percent favorite was schooled.
You've known about this
fight since 2007. Have you been training since then?
We were supposed to fight in
March, so I knew about him as my opponent at the end of last year.
I am always training, but when a fight is confirmed I start to make
my routine. I'd like to make a super training system of boxing,
wrestling, BJJ, MMA sparring and conditioning everyday, but I can't
make it happen. So I try to focus each piece of my training on what
I will prioritize. My biggest priority is BJJ, but in a few stages
of this preparation I increase the other aspects. I developed a
system where I have everything settled until fight week, so I don't
[lack training that] I need to compete in MMA. Just to mention an
example, I had a seminar in Peru last month. So my routine changed,
however I took the opportunity of traveling to train boxing with
Daniel Aspe, an
outstanding mixed martial artist who has a huge background in
Is boxing what you choose
to fill out your game?
Not at all. I trained kung fu
when I was a kid, so when I started in MMA I realized my high kicks
were very good. I was surprised with my performance in Super
Challenge in 2006 when I high kicked, and I kept training kicks
because I liked them and I felt very good standing up with knees
also. But my weakness was boxing. I had trouble in the half
distance. In the long and short ones I was good, but between wasn't
working. Now I think I improved this. I have the British fighter
James Zikic (Pictures) supporting me here in Brazil. He
is a pro boxer. I have my boxing coach, Andre Lopes, too, but Zikic
is sparring with me and I feel a good evolution in this area. But
this was in training. I can't say I'll knock Herman out
You talked about Super
Challenge, and in that competition you dominated two muay Thai
experts in Vitelmo
Kubis Bandeira and Gustavo Machado (Pictures). Landing kicks, closing the
distance and handling them on the ground.
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I believe I have two factors that
helped me in this game. The combination of my standup experience
when I was a kid conditioned me to this, plus my BJJ focused on
self-defense, submissions, MMA and not on points. And I guess I was
born to fight more MMA than BJJ. I know I need to develop a lot in
MMA, but I feel very good when I'm fighting because we can use
everything, and in BJJ we're a little limited. These are two
different sports, you know. Well, I wished to be an MMA fighter
first before BJJ. Since the sport wasn't mainstream I wanted to do
it, so I guess naturally I got conditioned since I was a young