Opinion: Demian Maia Shines, or Jake Shields Silences Critics
By Michael Hatamoto
Following the excitement from UFC 165, it’s time to shift focus to UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Shields from Barueri, Brazil next month.
A welterweight clash between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist Demian Maia fighting former EliteXC and Strikeforce champion Jake Shields has major welterweight ranking implications.
Shields entered the UFC octagon in 2010 after serving as Strikeforce welterweight champion, but has gone a lackluster 3-2-1. Although Shields has a winning record, he looked lackluster in wins against Martin Kampmann, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Tyron Woodley.
He lost to Georges St. Pierre and Jake Ellenberger, with a no contest due to a failed drug test mixed in there.
Meanwhile, since dropping down to welterweight in 2012, Maia has racked up three consecutive wins against Dong Hyun Kim, Rick Story, and Jon Fitch. He’s clearly on the fast track towards a welterweight title shot, and an impressive performance against Shields would help his case.
For this fight, Maia is better on the feet and has better submissions, but I think Shields actually has a better overall game. Maia is able to put people in the clinch and work for takedowns, but Shields is able to use a single-leg takedown to put opponents on the mat. I expect Shields to force Maia to be as uncomfortable as possible, which will make it easier to land a takedown.
This is a five-round, 25-minute fight, so cardio could become a major factor when the fight enters the ‘championship rounds.’ Shields must force Maia out of controlling the pace, and we’ll see who can survive later in the fight.
Shields could find himself in a rather uncomfortable gatekeeper status with a loss, while a win helps Maia move closer to a title shot in 2014.