Demian Maia may have fought his final bout in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace struggled mightily against Belal Muhammad in a featured welterweight bout at UFC 263, failing on 20 of 21 takedown attempts in a unanimous decision loss at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., on Saturday night.
After a three-bout winning streak in 2019, Maia has dropped back-to-back bouts and has lost five of his last eight Octagon appearances dating back to 2017. UFC president Dana White confirmed that Maia probably won’t compete for the Las Vegas-based promotion again at Saturday’s post-fight press conference.
“I think that was his last fight,” White said. “It was the last fight on his deal. He’s [43 years old]. He’s been so good at getting in there, securing the takedown, getting on top of people and just strangling them or grabbing something and twisting it until you quit, and he couldn’t get it done tonight. He’s [43 years old], he’s a great guy, he’s had a great career, and yes, I would say that’s probably it.”
That would seemingly align with Maia’s sentiments following his previous loss to Gilbert Burns in March 2020, when he said he wanted to retire after one more fight.
For Muhammad, it was a surreal experience simply sharing the cage with Maia – even at this point of the Brazilian veteran’s career.
It was just more like, ‘Damn, I’m fighting Demian Maia.’ This is like a legend that you look up to type of guy,” he said. “You can sit there and talk about it, but when you’re actually in the cage with him, you’re like, ‘Damn, I’m fighting Demian Maia.’
“It was an honor to watch him and being a fan of his since I was a kid, watching him against Anderson Silva, watching him fight for the title twice. It’s an honor to share the cage with a guy like that.”