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Demian Maia’s legacy: I want to be remembered for ‘adapting BJJ for modern MMA’

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Welterweight veteran Demian Maia wants to be remembered as the one who adapted BJJ into modern MMA.

Demian Maia is set to face Belal Muhammad at UFC 263. Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

With his professional mixed martial arts career coming to an end soon, former UFC middleweight and welterweight title challenger Demian Maia may not have achieved gold in the Octagon, but hopes he will leave another legacy behind.

In an interview with Ag Fight, Maia revealed his wish to be remembered for his innovative techniques, and being best at applying and adjusting Brazilian jiu-jitsu for modern MMA.

“I’d like to be remembered for being the one responsible for adapting Brazilian jiu-jitsu for modern MMA. For what I’ve learned from fence work and some ground positions. Lots of details I developed after years and years studying them, testing what worked on the mat, against the fence, what kept opponents on the ground, control situations. Lots of content I developed and nobody does it like me. There are lots of jiu-jitsu fighters who finish fights and have good MMA jiu-jitsu, but I think I’ve applied techniques which I can teach other people. I focus a lot on that, on how to apply those techniques into modern MMA, which is different from the old one. There is a lot more details. That adaptation is the legacy I left behind.”

Although Demian believes he is responsible for modernizing MMA jiu-jitsu in many ways, he does not put himself on the same echelon as the Gracie family, who invented the sport. In Demian’s opinion, he will always be below them and does not want to see other fighters referring to his style as ‘Demian Maia jiu-jitsu’ in any way.

“I think that’s pretty pretentious. You can’t compare my background to the Gracies’, not only in technique, but in terms of business and marketing. Back in the 50’s, not even a soccer player could a make living from that, but the Gracies made a living out of their fighting gym. They lived in a healthy way, profiting and fighting. Not even soccer was like that. What they did is impressive. I would never say ‘Demian Maia jiu-jitsu’. I created lots of things that became known, but it’s all Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”

In his last outing, Maia (28-10) lost via TKO to fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt Gilbert Burns, back in March. Before the loss, the 42-year-old was on a three-fight winning streak, with victories over Lyman Good, Anthony Rocco Martin and Ben Askren.