Demain Maia and Mark Munoz put in a hard shift over three rounds at UFC 131 that was often fought on the feet despite their respective BJJ and wrestling skills.
Maia’s has worked hard on his striking over the past few years, but truth be told it’s always looked a little pedestrian. Not so in the first round of his fight with Munoz though as he looked to be fighting with much more purpose and venom in his strikes.
He appeared to wobble Munoz early and that set the pace for much of the round as Munoz looked somewhat hesitant and Maia capitalized with a series of strikes that landed.
In the final moments Munoz did appear to be coming back into it though as he dug his heels in and began to fire back effectively for the first time.
Onto round two and Munoz is suddenly the aggressor, coming out on top in a toe-to-toe slugfest early in the round that forces Maia into reverse gear and then to shoot for the first time.
Unfortunately for Maia he fails with his takedown attempt which leaves Munoz sprawled on top of him launching repeated heavy blows to his ribs and leg. It’s a position Maia has to get used to in the round as he finds himself there several times during the five minute spell as his attempts to take Munoz down continue to fail.
Surprisingly Maia also finds himself caught in a d’arce choke at one stage, though he’s too well seasoned to tap to that and manages to get back out of it.
The momentumwas definitely in Munoz favor now though, leaving it all to play for in round three.
The final stanza proves to be extremely closely fought as both men try to battle through on on-set of fatigue to gain the upper-hand.
Maia’s best moment comes up against the cage as he somehow manages to work for a crucifix from an awkward angle, but Munoz is wise to it and manages to break free.
On the feet it’s hard to pick between them, with Munoz perhaps landing the heavier shots at this stage, and a couple of takedowns in his favor without any real end product means the judges have a hard decision to make after the final bell.
In the end the judges see it as a relatively clear cut unanimou decision win for Munoz (29-28 x2, 30-27).
This is a very big win for Munoz, taking him to three consecutive victories and adding a big name victim to his CV. On the other hand it’s a big blow for Maia who now has to re-build from scratch again.