The middle fight of the UFC 211 main card looked to be a fantastic — and key — welterweight bout between Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia. What was already a great fight had some gravitas added when Dana White confirmed during the pre-fight show that the winner of Masvidal vs. Maia would be next in line for Tyron Woodley’s welterweight title.
Heading into the event, Masvidal (32-11) was coming off three straight wins, including a TKO finish of the always game Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Maia (24–6), meanwhile, entered the night on a six fight win streak. Many had already tabbed him next in line for a title shot at 170lbs. Would he live to regret agreeing to the Masvidal bout?
Maia shot in early to start the bout but Masvidal was able to stuff it, and tried for a guillotine. He used that to defend another takedown, while Maia persisted. Maia worked to take the back less than two minutes in and secured it with a body lock. No small task as Masvidal remained standing, carrying Maia’s weight. Masvidal worked to keep Maia’s hands apart, but couldn’t get him off his back. In the final thirty seconds, Masvidal managed to shake free, reverse position and unload a flurry of strikes from the top, but Maia was able to avoid the worst of it. Possibly from tired legs after holding a body triangle most of the round, he seemed a little ginger on his legs heading back to his stool.
In the second round, Masvidal wanted to keep things standing – without his foe on his back. Maia shot in early, which Masvidal deftly avoided with a sprawl. A second shot was avoided as well, and you could see Masvidal’s confidence grow. Hard leg kicks followed from Masvidal. Maia attempted what seemed like a desperation shot, but held on and after wrapping up Masvidal’s legs finally managed to get his opponent to the ground. A much better round for Masvidal, but Maia finished the round riding his back
The third saw Masvidal land some solid leg kicks and possibly buckle Maia’s knee, however by round’s ended Maia once again had the back, body triangle locked, looking for the rear naked choke and softening Masvidal up with punches. Masvidal survived the round, but Maia had far more time in control for the fight.
The official decision was split, going to Demian Maia (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). After the bout, Maia went to Dana White (cageside) and said he wanted a shot at the belt. Per Maia, Dana White said he’ll get it.