Veteran campaigner Demian Maia appears to have secured himself a welterweight title shot tonight after edging out Jorge Masvidal by split decision at UFC 211.
Maia attempts to get in on a takedown early in the first round and a scramble ensues as masvidal attempts to stay upright. Repeatedly Masvidal is takedown, but then gets back up as Maia relentlessly works to get him to the mat and keep him there.
Maia hops onto Masvidal’s back as he stands up and gets the body triangle to stay securely on him. Masvidal leans him back against the cage to take some of the weight off of him.
Maia being patient as he looks for ways to sink in a rear-naked choke, but for now Masvidal is able to defend.
This is how it remains until the final 30 seconds of the round when Masvidal does a good job of grabbing Maia’s arms and manages to shake him off and land on top.
Immediately Masvidal starts teeing off with ground and pound and lands some good shots to the head before the end of the round.
Maia is noticeably limping back to his corner afterwards, perhaps having either burned out his legs or hurt them while maintaining that body triangle for so long on Masvidal’s back in that opening five minutes.
Brief stoppage to get some excess tape off Masvidal’s glove. Masvidal stuffs a takedown and then starts landing a few leg kicks. Another takedown attempt from Maia and again it’s stuffed.
That’s big for Masvidal. He lands more kicks and Maia’s definitely feeling these. Again Maia goes for the takedown and though he doesn’t quite get it he’s able to grab a leg while on the mat. Masvidal gets away and lands a strike as Maia stands.
Maia clearly doesn’t want any more of the stand-up game and goes back for the takedown again. Like the last time it doesn’t quite pay off but he grabs a leg again.
This time Maia is able to scramble to get on top. Better position for Maia now, though some kind of a strike from Masvidal has opened up a cut on his head.
Maia able to improve his position and now has Masvidal’s back in the final minute of the round. Couple of punches from Maia, but it’s mostly just control for him for now. CLose round.
Head kick attempt from Masvidal is blocked. Hard leg kick from him now. A body kick for Masvidal now. Kick upstairs blocked. Not much coming in return from Maia so far. He may well just be waiting for his moment to pounce on the takedown.
Left hand for Maia. Flying knee attempt from masvidal misses. High kick for Masvidal. Half the round remaining. Suddenly Maia reaches for a single leg and is able to bundle Masvidal to the mat.
Maia gets partially on his back, though Masvidal’s trying to keep as much of his back as possible against the cage.
Maia still somehow manages to get a partial rear-naked choke in, then improves his position to get fully on Masvidal’s back.
He’s given up on the choke atteempt for now though. Final minute of the fight. Masvidal really needs to get out of this quickly, but that’s easier said than done.
20 seconds to go Masvidal tries to break free but is unsuccessful and Maia maintains control on his back until the time runs out. We’re headed to the judges!
Masvidal was clearly getting the better of the stand-up during this fight, but Maia had longer spells controlling the action on the mat and so he rightly comes away with a split decision victory (29-28 x2, 28-29).
After being announced the winner, Maia begs Dana White to give him a title shot and the UFC president grants him his wish, meaning that his seven-fight winning streak has now earned Maia a fight with welterweight champion Tryon Woodley in July.