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UFC on Fox: Demian Maia vs. Carlos Condit Toe to Toe Preview - A Complete Breakdown

Phil and David break down everything you need to know about Condit and Maia trying to earn that next title shot at UFC on Fox 21 in Canada, and everything you don't about jazz versus rap rock.

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Condit and Maia try to take the contender control reigns this August 27, 2016 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

One sentence summary:

David: The natural born thriller attempts to avoid having those thrills taken away from the one guy who can choke the insulin out of you.

Phil: Elite throwback throwdown, as welterweight's evergreen striker and grappler throw bombs and throws.


Record: Maia 23-6 Condit 30-9

Odds: Maia +110 Condit -130

History / Introduction to Both Fighters

David: I keep waiting for Maia to finally diminish, but it's clearly not in his DNA. Maia is still, for all intents and purposes, an anachronism. A grappling centric pugilist who almost fights like he's still trying to prove Royce Gracie's techniques still work. Such a description reduces Maia to a stereotype. Which he isn't. But that's kind of what makes Maia unique. He skirts the core of traditional martial arts in a way no other elite fighter can claim.

Phil: There are two pure or near-pure grapplers who are left having success at the top levels, and they are both in the best divisions in the sport. One of them is Khabib Nurmagomedov, and the other is Demian Maia. While the Dagestani is visibly quick and powerful, watching Maia is almost puzzling. He just gets his hands on his opponents and... they get destroyed. This is a man who's taken 12 significant strikes in his last three fights. 12!

David: No one that watches this sport has ever said a bad thing about Condit. Granted, lift a reddit stone and they may be there. Split a piece of troll, and you may find them. But Condit has earned all the hallelujahs from the MMA community for the time being. That's why his post-fight interview against Lawler was so sobering. Condit is aware of his fight mortality. It'll be interesting to see where his career goes from here.

Phil: This has to be the last run, right? And that's no bad thing. There's always been an ominous feeling about Condit's career. He's so insanely tough, and he gets hit so much, and so hard. As with Maia, you find yourself constantly looking for the cracks, because it was clear that when Condit started to deteriorate, it would be very fast and very ugly. I'd like to see Condit get the belt, but even if he just gets out of the sport while leaving behind that legacy of amazing fights, without the brutal downturn endemic to his style, then that's a victory for one of the sport's good guys.

What's at stake?

David: For a fight between two contenders, not as much on the surface. Condit winning sets up a Woodley rematch that I don't think is on Zuffa's radar. The alternative is what? Maia vs. Woodley? That would either be Maia vs. Marquardt all over again. Or Shields vs. Woodley all over again. I'm not sure the UFC is eager to find out which will be which.

Phil: I think the stakes are more simply that due to age and attitude, this is the last hurrah at the top level for whoever wins the fight. I don't think either Maia or Condit can regroup into another title-winning run off a loss, particularly because the way that the styles mesh up means that the loser may end up looking very bad.

Where do they want it?

David: Maia continues to refine his grappling execution. Unlike most fighters of his ilk, he hasn't tried to use different techniques to distract from his specific gameplan. Instead he's showing how useful tunnel vision can be in a fight. Maia remains a reservoir of fundamentals: tightening his efficiency with a rigid adherence to non stochastic designs for bone snapping, sinus crunching good fun. A lot is made of modern MMA and the way static situations have given way to dynamic situations. Like how ground fighting concentrates more on transitions, and sweeps over setup and opportunities. This is true in my view. But there's plenty of room for static fighters and Maia is one of the best static fighters on the planet. His raw core strength (belying his physical appearance) allows him to leverage his weight to execute takedowns with the kind of quickness that relies on pure motor skills and fast twitch muscle fibers. His boxing is still rudimentary but at least it's reasonable.

Phil: There was that point in Maia's career around the Dan Miller fight when he was mostly kickboxing. People were unsurprisingly down on him for this. I think the meme in vogue was "K1 Maia", but there was some value to the whole thing, I think. It gave Maia an understanding of how to strike, and thus a way to work around it. After that it's all been working on the wrestling, and the ground and pound as a way to open up passes, making a terrifyingly integrated game. Chain wrestling perhaps gives the idea of single options , but Maia has put as much thought into avoiding running down pre-set wrestling entries and followups as he has into his jiu jitsu in recent years. The first double leg is good, but then there's misdirection singles, back takes, body locks and he is always thinking.

His guard passing is simply magical- BJJ Scout has pulled back the curtain a bit in this wonderful breakdown series: if I am to reductively break his fantastic analysis down, it's that Maia goes "the other way" to MMA jiu jitsu: floating his hips high above the opponent while wedging their upper body down with his head and arms, thus neutralizing the butterfly guards and switches favoured by most MMA fighters. This may prove to be a very big problem for Condit.

David: Condit's fight chops haven't actually changed much through the years. He relies on choppy, but slicing combinations to wear opponents down. Condit takes a sledgehammer approach to attrition warfare. There isn't a moment wasted trying to either convince the judges, or the opponent that Condit isn't the more effective fighter. As such, his career has ebbed as much as it has flowed. His sheer workrate is what got him to the top, but it has only ever worked as long as he could stay upright. Early on Condit relied on his gangly range to swarm opponents, but as he got older, the ‘swarm attack' became a little more deliberate. He incorporated elbows and knees he already had, but in a more fluid way. As intense as his ground game is, I always like emphasizing his approach to fighting off his back. He's the only fighter I know that deliberately attempts strikes (especially elbows from his back) and submission attempts to counter ground and pound. He didn't win that Jake Shields fight back in 2006 but you better believe he made it close despite spending 99% of that fight on his back.

Phil: If Condit gets taken down, that's what he needs to do. Closed guard and elbow for his life, and he's probably going to get taken down a lot. His upright posture, aggression, big steps, and elbow-flaring punches make for a attritional style which is nonetheless somewhat easy to blow through with takedowns or heavy shots. I once described him as having the takedown defense of a drunken flamingo, and that's mean... but he gets taken down a lot.

Still, if he lacks a single reliable tool, he makes up for it by having an incredibly wide array of them arranged on his woodshed. Opponents do not want to be taken there. Given any kind of space, he'll throw a dizzying array of knees, body shots, elbows and kicks. The sheer diversity means that he's not so much a rote fighter as he is one who functions on a series of basic rules which he assembles new structures around on the fly. Classical jazz as bonecrunching violence.

Insight from Past Fights?

David: Speaking of the Jake Shields fight, that's the one I go back to. In that fight, Shields managed to do exactly what he wanted to do. Maia, who is much better at getting fights to the ground, should be able to do likewise. However, that's where the fight begins. Can Condit make Maia uncomfortable with his elbow attack from guard? Will that discomfort keep Maia from taking control? It seemed to work against Shields despite the loss on his record. This is what makes the fight so interesting. Maia doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who will be deterred in his fight abode. But nor does Condit strike as the kind of guy who can be deterred in the middle of an attack.

Phil: Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler. The first saw Condit's first attempts at pure outfighting, and they were quite ugly. He was forced to run his way off the cage on multiple occasions, got trapped a few times, and generally was unable to put a whole lot of damage on Diaz. The Lawler fight showed a much better outfighter- one with tighter footwork, better shot selection, and much less of a tendency to get trapped on the cage. Condit is still going to get taken down, but how hard he makes it on Maia is the centerpiece of this fight. In general, effective outfighting is pure stylistic poison for grapplers. Holm-Rousey, Silva-Maia etc.


David: Philosophy. Has Condit's "brush with neurology" changed some of the dynamics to his game? It sounds silly, but then what the hell else can we talk about here?

Phil: Philosophy on one side, age on the other. Maia's gotta get old at some point, and if he can't submit Condit early, then the NBK is not the guy who you want to be fighting if you're not in peak physical condition.


David: In a three round fight, we saw how heavily Condit's attack weighed on a top control grappler in the Shields fight. I keep returning to the Shields fight because I believe this is that rare instance where we have transitional fossils, biogeography, and genetics converging together to help explain what this fight will look like. Maia will get his takedowns, but will he get his control? That's the difference. Conduit will throw down from the bottom. And as Maia gets his one or two opportunities, I believe he finally fades from Conduit's offense going into the championship rounds. Carlos Condit by Split Decision.

Phil: Maia has been submitting people late in fights, but Condit has a special gas tank. Despite his well-known flaws with TDD, he's going to be moving around on the outside much more than any of Maia's recent victims, none of whom could be described as outfighters. That will be the key difference in a matchup where any second where Condit isn't on bottom is one where the clock is ticking for Maia. Carlos Condit by TKO, round 4.

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