BJJ ace Demian Maia (13-2) looks forward to his journey to another UFC middleweight title shot, as he faces off against TUF winner Kendall Grove (12-7) this Saturday at The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale.
The 6’6″ Grove specifically requested a fight with the 2nd-degree BJJ black belt, in an effort to fight a tough opponent and work himself towards title contendership.
MMAHQ recently caught up with Maia to discuss his training, BJJ use in MMA and the upcoming fight against Grove.
“This is a good opponent with well-rounded MMA game,” Maia told MMAHQ during the interview.
Grove has long arms and legs, which Maia believes will pose a problem both on the feet and on the ground, but the Brazilian has worked specifically to neutralize any threats.
“I trained with some guys with his height and length,” Maia noted when discussing the matchup ,” you never know until you get in there. I did my homework and I got to spar with some guys his size and will be ready.”
Maia has worked to improve his striking and wrestling along with further committing to his elite BJJ leading up to the Grove fight. However, Kendall should look to control the distance and use his striking, with minimal kicks, to help prevent Maia from getting inside for an easier take down. Maia isn’t sure what to expect, but has worked dilligently in all elements in preparation.
“I don’t really know his game plan. I think he’ll try to avoid to fight from the bottom. If he takes me down, he’ll try to ground and pound and submit. He has good BJJ and I don’t think he’ll be afraid to go on the ground.”
When Grove attempted submissions from his back in his decision loss to Ricardo Almeida, he left himself exposed.When Almeida passed Grove’s guard, he was able to utilize an aggressive submission attack whilst using ground and pound. Following Almeida’s game plan, Maia can look to drag the fight to the ground and control Grove.
“Yeah of course, everything is possible (on the ground). I’m getting better (with) my ground and pound … but I’m always looking for submissions anytime on the ground.”
The ground threat Maia poses to opponents continues to evolve from his elite BJJ background directly into MMA. Trying to transition from pure BJJ to effective BJJ for MMA has caused some fighters to greatly struggle. Maia, in contrast, said he hasn’t had much difficulty implementing his traditional BJJ into MMA BJJ.
“I know Jiu Jitsu … it’s all self defense and I can use it in MMA. Since I started BJJ (white and blue belt) level, I was already thinking about MMA,” Maia said. “I tried to sweep black belts, use single leg sweeps … always aware of what’s happening.”
Possible rematches with middleweight champion Anderson Silva or Nate Marquardt — who knocked out Maia in dramatic fashion at UFC 102 — are often discussed by MMA fans, but Maia only has one objective in mind:
“I’m completely focused on Grove, and even after that, I don’t want to think about when or who I fight. I want to fight as hard as (I) can on Saturday.”
Maia meets Grove on the main card of the TUF 12 Finale this Saturday night for free on Spike TV.
Maia would like to thank the UFC and MMA fans for supporting him, along with BadBoy.