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'Great' Threat Awaits Maia at UFC 102


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Viewed by many as the premier Brazilian jiu-jitsu player in mixed martial arts, Demian Maia will face perhaps his stiffest challenge when he takes on Nate Marquardt at UFC 102 ?Couture vs. Nogueira? this Saturday at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Ore.


Maia has risen quickly through the UFC ranks, as he has submitted all five of his opponents inside the Octagon. He sees Marquardt as a major threat.


?Nate has a lot of good features as a fighter and deserves all respect,? Maia says. ?He has a good stand-up game, is very aggressive and strong, has endurance and is also a black belt who has a dangerous guillotine. In theory, he is the biggest challenge of my career, but a fight is always a fight. I may take him down and submit him, but, theoretically speaking, he is the most complete fighter I?ve ever faced.?


Maia points to Marquardt?s dazzling performance against Wilson Gouveia at UFC 95 as evidence of his fortitude.


?He started bad, having a clear disadvantage, but totally changed the fight and won,? Maia says.


Boxing coach Andre Lopes has trained Maia since he debuted in the UFC two years ago and remains confident his prot?g? can pull off a pivotal victory against Marquardt.


?Demian is a way different fighter,? Lopes says. ?Now, he is able to exchange punches if necessary, and his left cross is very dangerous. Nate is a tough opponent, but I believe Demian will take him down and submit him, like he did with all his other opponents.?


Maia?s wrestling coach, Graham Cash, agrees.


?Demian is such an intelligent guy,? the former Olympian says. ?Everything you show him he learns fast. I worked a lot with him on Nate?s style. He is not in a hurry. He knows what to do, and I believe he will win another by submission.?


Should Maia impress against Marquardt, a former King of Pancrase and perennial top 10 middleweight, he could find himself in line to face UFC middleweight king Anderson Silva sooner rather than later. Silva wowed the MMA world with his spectacular performance against former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at UFC 101. Maia was in awe.


?Amazing fight. Anderson is undoubtedly a genius,? he says. ?He came off two not very exciting fights, and, this time, he did a terrific job against a former light heavyweight champion. Something curious is that in that weight category his punch is much stronger. In both fights, he knocked out his opponents fast. He is an amazing fighter. If everything goes right now, I really would like to have an opportunity for the title shot.?


Maia realizes, however, that he might have to wait his turn. Two-time Olympian and former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Dan Henderson has also staked his claim to a crack at Silva. Henderson flattened Michael Bisping at UFC 100.


?They told me before the fight between Henderson and Bisping that they would choose between Henderson and Bisping and my fight against Nate to see who would face Anderson for the title shot,? Maia says. ?Dan Henderson had an amazing fight, so I think he has more of a chance now. But if I win and have a good fight, they may take into account that, unlike Nate and Henderson, I never fought for the title and never lost to Anderson. If I have a tough fight, I don?t know what they are going to do. What they told me is that they will put together the fight that the fans want to see. At the moment, I?m not worried about it; I?m just concerned with Nate.?


Another fighter, former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, could also throw a wrench into Maia?s title hopes. The rejuvenated 32-year-old Brazilian will return to the Octagon against Rich Franklin in the UFC 103 main event in September, and UFC President Dana White has already publicly discussed the idea of throwing him in against Silva at some point.


?Vitor is a great fighter and very famous,? Maia says. ?Of course, he didn?t need to have five fights like I did, but I don?t think it?s fair if he gets a title shot after his first fight. But we have to understand the UFC is a business; we are not talking about jiu-jitsu or Olympic wrestling, where fighters need to beat the best to deserve to fight for the title. If there are one million people that want to pay to see Vitor and Anderson, they will make the fight happen because this is a business and we have to understand that.?


Outside of his showdown with Marquardt, Maia has an eye on the featured bout at UFC 102, as hall of famer Randy Couture will collide with Brazilian legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.


?I?m cheering for ?Minotauro.? Everybody knows that,? Maia says. ?I admire Randy a lot, and I already had the opportunity to tell him about that. He is a legend. Competing at such a high level being 45 years old -- a guy like that is always dangerous. He is there because he loves it, not because of money. But Rodrigo is a pretty complete fighter and has more tools to win. If he gets to the point where Randy works better on the fence, he will probably have a hard time, but, for me, Rodrigo has more ways to win.?

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I didn't know how good Marquardt was until I saw his relentless assault on Gouveia. It was rediculous. He was standing prone to Gouveia and hit him with that nasty knee. Then continued with a spinning head kick, back fist, jab, jab. One of the nastiest finishes in my eyes, behind Hendo on Bisping of course.

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I didn't know how good Marquardt was until I saw his relentless assault on Gouveia. It was rediculous. He was standing prone to Gouveia and hit him with that nasty knee. Then continued with a spinning head kick' date=' back fist, jab, jab. One of the nastiest finishes in my eyes, [b']behind Hendo on Bisping of course[/b].


LOL!!! That was awsome!


I want Maia to win so Silva can face someone that has BJJ skills in the elite level, but Marquardt will be too much for Maia as his stand up hasnt been shown too well.

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This is a classic fight and itl be interesting to see how far weve come from the Royce gracie days, Maia has a good chin and seems incredibly smart, he has been one step ahead of his previous opponents, im a big fan of Nate and want him to win, he's one of the most well rounded fighters going around and had tonnes of experiance, i think he deserved the shot instead of Leitas as he beat the bergeebers out of him, only lost to technicalities, plus thales is world class BJJ not as good as maia, but still remember that fight, boreing, silva is to smart to take chances on the ground, and being a BJJ black belt, he's well aware of how easy it is to make one mistake and be submitted. Still like to know who hendo will fight next, winner of this fight or will he get anderson?

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