Demian Maia Interview

Demian Maia, for those who of you who follow the middleweights in the UFC, is undefeated and quickly becoming a challenger to the top fighters in the division.  His perfect record will be on the line when he faces Jason McDonald at UFC 87: Seek and Destroy in Minneapolis, MN on Saturday; Gleidson Venga of Sherdog got some face time with Maia in which a variety of topics were discussed, including his preparation for his upcoming bout with McDonald and his ascent up the middleweight rankings.  Below is the interview in its entirety:

Sherdog.com: How did your training camp go for this upcoming bout?
Maia: Everything was good. Training in the gym went excellent. Rafael Alejarra went to Brazil to help me out with the physical preparation. Now I’m here in Las Vegas, at Wanderlei Silva’s house, training hard. I was very well received here.

Sherdog.com: What do you think about Alejarra’s training and how did you get to know each other?
Maia: His training is fantastic. I met Alejarra and Wanderlei through André Galvão, who trained Wanderlei for his fight against Chuck Liddell. I was here to do the “The Ultimate Fighter” [Maia helped instruct Frank Mir’s team], so I asked Alejarra to train me and we are here working.

Sherdog.com: How has that helped you?
Maia: I’ve become better. It’s a very different kind of training that I’d never seen before. It’s very complex training, very detailed, which makes us become much better. You can notice that when watching Wanderlei because he is always in shape.

Sherdog.com: Jason MacDonald might not be a decorated on the ground as yourself, but he is a tough guy. What do you think about his game?
Maia: For sure, he is a guy to be respected. He doesn’t have the same level as I do in terms of competition, but he has a very good jiu-jitsu game for MMA. Nowadays you don’t have to be so good in all area — being in the middle you are quite alright. If he is doing bad on the ground, he can stay alive and try to come back to his foot. Today, it’s no longer as before, when once on the ground, time limit did not count and then the jiu-jitsu used to make a great difference. Now, it still does, but the thing is that there are a lot of rules.

Sherdog.com: MacDonald has nearly 10 years of experience and 29 fights. Do you think that his experience in MMA will complicate things for you?
Maia: I don’t think so because if you check, I might have more than 200 jiu-jitsu fights and that counts too. I’ve fought against more experienced guys, like Gustavo Machado and Ed Herman for instance, so I think this doesn’t make such a difference for a guy like me.

Sherdog.com: Your opponent’s skill level in general seems higher this time around. Do you see this as a sign that the UFC is gaining more trust in your game?
Maia: For sure. And this is exactly what I want. It’s no use not to face the good opponents, otherwise I won’t be able to get where I want. I have to face hard opponents and this guy is highly regarded here in the U.S. The organizers know I’m ready to fight among the top guys. They won’t allow me to fight for the belt if they notice I’m not ready for that yet.

Sherdog.com: The middleweight division has had some great fights and the UFC is always recruiting promising new fighters. What do you think about the promotion?
Maia: It will always be like that — good athletes will always come along. It’s the best event in the world, where everybody wants to be fighting. This is what I have to expect as well, to watch more and more good fighters coming. Because of this, I have to train harder and harder, to become better each day and to be prepared for what comes to me.

Sherdog.com: How has your standup and wrestling progressed since you’ve entered the UFC?
Maia: My striking is a lot better, especially since the last fight. It’s natural, to be training and evolving. I consider my wrestling a part of my jiu-jitsu because taking [opponents] down is a part of jiu-jitsu. I think I’ve improved a lot.

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