Demian Maia put his grappling skills on display at UFC Singapore, choking-out Ben Askren in the third round of the highly anticipated main event.
Ben Askren’s UFC run ahead of his bout in Singapore had been an interesting one. A couple of unique fights, with one controversial victory to show for it, had taken some of the shine off of the previously undefeated multi-promotion champion. His wrestling talents are undeniable, but Askren had been unable to utilize them to the extent that some expected when he joined the promotion. Now, rather than facing top-tier strikers like Robbie Lawler and Jorge Masvidal, Askren was tasked with an opponent more in his wheelhouse.
That opponent at UFC Singapore just also happened to be one of the greatest grapplers in MMA history: Demian Maia. The Brazilian has showcased his jiu-jitsu skills time and time again, submitting and defeating a variety of stylistic opponents throughout his UFC career, which dates back to 2007.
Although he’s 2-3 in his last five fights, Maia was also 9-3 in his last 12. The fighters who’d defeated Maia in that stretch (Tyron Woodley, Kamaru Usman, and Colby Covington) all had similarly strong wrestling backgrounds to that of Askren, while “Funky” lacked the striking skills they possessed. On Saturday, we found out if that would be enough for Askren to get back to his winning ways.
Maia began the fight with a couple of strong left hands, landing one to the head and another to the body of Askren. Askren marched forward, threw a wild spinning back fist, and got the fight to the clinch. Askren paid for his aggression, eating several left hands from the Brazilian while being unable to get the fight to the ground. The duo traded shots and battled in the clinch a few times throughout the first round, with Maia’s striking giving him the early advantage. With 45-seconds left in the round, Askren was finally able to drag Maia to the ground from the clinch, but was quickly on defesne as Maia worked for a couple of submissions until the round ended.
Despite getting the worse of the striking exchanges, Askren’s pressure never waned, and began to give Maia more problems as round two went on. Askren was able to open up a couple of cuts on the face of Maia, landing more regularly in round two as Maia continued to back. The striking advantage that Maia had early in round-one seemed to fade, as Askren’s confidence grew with each landed punch. With a little more than a minute left in the round, Askren shot for another takedown and got the fight to the ground.
Once on the ground, Maia quickly worked for an omaplata, and was able to reverse position and take top control as Askren defended the submission. Maia worked himself into mount, landing some ground and pound, before taking the back and looking for a choke. Askren defended well, reversed position himself, and we got the grappling battle we were hoping for as the second round ended.
— UFC (@ufc) October 26, 2019
A minute into the third round, Askren got the fight to the ground with an impressive clinch throw. In top position, Askren was unable to make the most of his advantage, and Maia got the fight back to the feet quickly. After eating a couple of hard punches, Askren once again dragged Maia down to the mat. But, as had happened throughout the bout, Maia quickly reversed position and mounted Askren. He then took Askren’s back, locked on a body-triangle, and sunk in the rear-naked choke. Askren got one tap in before going unconscious.
— UFC (@ufc) October 26, 2019
Result: Demian Maia def. Ben Askren by submission (rear-naked choke) in Round 3 (3:54)