Belal Muhammad had to repeatedly defend Demian Maia’s constant single-leg takedowns tonight at UFC 263 and gradually began to make more of an impact in the striking department to ensure he’d come away with a win on the scorecards.
Both fighters paw at each other. Muhammad with a one-two. Maia attempts a takedown, but Muhammad is wise to it. Left hand from Maia.
Quick jab from Muhammad. Maia in on another takedown attempt. He’s working on a single leg and Muhammad hops backwards and gets hi back against the cage as he looks to defend this.
So far Muhammad has stayed upright, but Maia doggedly works for the takedown and is able to land it. Muhammad lands awkwardly but seems ok and after a brief pause he works back to his feet, then is able to get back to striking range.
They only start to feel out at each other for a moment before Maia attempts another takedown, but this time comes away empty-handed.
Muhammad misses a punch and Maia ducks underneath and is looking for that single-leg again. Muhammad deals with it the same way as before, getting his back to the cage and this time successfully defends it and gets back to the center of the Octagon.
Muhammad moves around Maia and lands a right hand. Maia clinches up and works for the single-leg again. Muhammad does well to stay upright despite Maia’s best efforts.
Final 20 seconds of the round with Maia still trying to make something out of this single leg, but then opts to release it. Muhammad finds space and immediately looks for a head kick attempt and tries to get some offense going before the horn sounds.
Left hand from Maia. Jab for Muhammad. Another jab for him. Crowd getting restless. Maia tries to get in on the single-leg and Muhammad moves away and lands a counter punch for good measure.
Leg kick for Muhammad. Left hand from Maia. Another takedown attempt from him that’s stuffed from Muhammad.
Maia with a straight punch. Maia fakes a takedown and Muhammad stumbles trying to stuff it.
A couple of crisp punches land for Muhammad. Maia with a clean punch of his own. Low leg kick for Muhammad and now a punch over the top.
Missed single leg attempt from Maia as he starts to slow down a bit. solid body punch from Muhammad. Maia swoops in and grabs the single-leg yet again.
It’s deja-vu as Muhammad hops over to the cage and stays upright. Maia stays hanging onto this single as Muhammad tries to pepper him with light punches. Elbows land too as Maia gives up on that attempt.
Maia with a brief flurry and the final two punches of that do connect. Muhammad lands a straight. Muhammad fends off the first takedown of the final round from Maia.
Muhammad starting to find more success with his punches. He lands a big right hand. Another connects. Maia with a jab. High kick from Muhammad.
Glancing punch from Muhammad and Maia attempts a single-leg that’s easily brushed aside this time.
Missed right from Muhammad but then lands a left behind it. Body punch and then one to the head from Muhammad. Right hand from Maia without much power behind it.
Crisp one-two from Muhammad. He just grazes the target with an uppercut and gets caught by a left hand counter from Maia.
Now a right from Maia. Body punch for Muhammad. Now a high kick attempt. Maia working for the single, but not having success with it in this round.
Muhammad lands a couple of punches. Guess what – Maia’s gone for a single-leg takedown. And Muhammad’s hopped over to the cage. And now the action has stalled there as Maia refuses to give up on the attempt despite not really getting anywhere with it, and that’s how the round ends.
Muhammad stuffed a large amount of takedowns in this fight and got the better of the striking action to earn a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 29-28 x2), while also likely bringing to a close Maia’s long career since this was the final fight of the 43-year-old’s current UFC deal.