Whether or not Saturday was Demian Maia’s last fight, he had a worthy opponent at UFC 263 in Belal Muhammad.
Grappling ace Maia was in the “seen it all, done it all” part of his career as a multi-time title challenger in the UFC. Muhammad on the other hand was a fight on the rise, looking to shake off the disappointment of a fight against Leon Edwards ending in an eye poke back in March.
After a couple of half-hearted takedown entries, Maia got in on the single-leg about a minute into the fight on Saturday. He worked Muhammad up against the cage and even managed to get him down for a few brief moments. Muhammad eventually worked back to his feet and worked for separation. A few jabs landed for Muhammad, but not much before he wound up against the cage for a second and then third time. The late attempts from Maia didn’t succeed, but Muhammad spent the vast majority of the round fighting them off.
The early part of the second round, again, saw Muhammad very tentative. He appeared to be worried about the counter single-leg takedown and as a result, was not throwing very much. After stuffing a couple takedown attempts though, he began to open up a bit more. Muhammad landed a few, but Maia wasn’t going quietly on the feet, scoring with a couple left hands of his own. Maia ended the round looking for his first takedown of that period, but wound up running out of time. It was a much more productive five minutes for Muhammad.
Maia came out for the third round with a sense of urgency, looking for a takedown early with nothing doing. Maia began to look wilted as he neared the 20 takedown attempt mark (still with just one completed). There was little else to say about the third round that again ended with Muhammad’s back against the cage.
Official Result: Belal Muhammad def. Demian Maia by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)