Demian Maia and Belal Muhammad fight Saturday in UFC 263 at the Gila River Arena. Maia enters this fight with a 28-10 record and has won 50 percent of his fights by submission. Muhammad enters this fight with a 18-3 record and has won 72 percent of his fights by decision.
Maia has split his last eight fights and is coming off a March (2020) loss to Gilbert Burns. He is averaging 1.82 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 43 percent. Maia is averaging 2.55 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 26 percent.
Maia is coming off a knockout loss at UFC on ESPN+ 28 where he landed just four strikes and was finished in the first round. It’s the second time Maia has been finished in his career. He now will fight for the first time in well over a year.
There’s no surprises with Maia, as he’s a grappling machine and easily one of the best ground fighters the sport has ever seen. Maia is a well decorated grappler who usually gets the fight where he’s most comfortable. A well decorated submission wrestler and five degree black belt in BJJ, Maia’s grappling credentials are unmatched. This will be Maia’s first career fight in Arizona.
Muhammad has won eight of his last 10 fights and is coming off a March no contest against Leon Edwards. He is averaging 4.75 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 43 percent. Muhammad is averaging 1.97 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 28 percent.
Muhammad is coming off a no contest at UFC Vegas 21 where he was poked in the eye in the second round. The fight was competitive up to that point and Muhammad had a chance to win his fifth straight fight.
Muhammad has proven to be a balanced fighter who lands a great deal of strikes on his feet. He also has a terrific gas tank that’s helped him win 13 of his 15 career decisions. Muhammad usually always gets the fight where he wants and it, and he does a great job of controlling the pace and not allowing his opponent to dictate much.
A purple belt in BJJ, Muhammad may not overwhelm his opponent, but he knows how to win and doesn’t allow his opponent to get comfortable. This will be Muhammad’s first career fight in Arizona.
There’s good reason why Muhammad is favored the way he is here. Maia is up there in age, the speed is gone and the chin is questionable at best. Muhammad should win this fight. With that said, Muhammad doesn’t have the power sticking to concern me, and Maia has a clear edge on the canvas if that’s where this fight goes. There’s a path for Maia to win this fight and we’re getting some juicy plus money.
I’ll take my chances.