Before he calls it quits for good, seasoned veteran Demian Maia is not sure whether his upcoming fight at UFC 263 will be his last. Paired up against a rising Belal Muhammad for an intriguing battle of generations, the Brazilian feels like there could still be enough energy for one more outing.
In an interview with Combate, Demian explained that, should all things go well against Belal, there is no reason not to pursue another go. Although he knows retirement is not far away anyway, Maia would like to test himself against top competition while he still feels healthy and competitive enough to do so.
“To be honest, I’m trying my best not to think about that (retirement), so it doesn’t carry over to the fight. That can disrupt my performance. I do have two plans on my mind, though. One is to do this fight, that’s the main thing. I might retire or not after this fight. If I do well, and mostly if I feel well, I’d like to have one more fight after this, to retire. It’s either going to be this one or the one after. It won’t go past that.”
Paired up against Belal Muhammad, who rode an impressive four-fight winning streak before his fight with Leon Edwards ended in a no contest, Demian knows the task ahead of him will not be easy. However, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt believes he might be able to take the fight to the ground and add one more submission to his record.
“He’s a good striker, although he comes from wrestling, he fights like a striker,” Maia said. “He does take some opponents down, which I don’t think will be my case. I think he’ll try to strike with me. He’s well-rounded, tough, has a good gas tank. He comes at you and tries to win with his volume. It’s no easy fight. He switches stances a lot, so he’s pretty well-rounded on the feet, with a good wrestling background.”
“There are two ways (the fight can go),” Demian continued. “One is me being able to impose my gameplan. The other one is him defending it and not letting me grab him. Then he’ll impose his gameplan on the feet, which will make it hard for me to maintain my rhythm, I hope I can submit him. Preferably as soon as possible and without suffering any damage, and him, too. I hope I can win in the best way possible. I’ll always look for the submission.”
In his last outing, Demian (28-10) got TKO’d by Gilbert Burns, back in March 2020. The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for the 43-year-old, with victories over Lyman Good, Anthony Rocco Martin and Ben Askren.
Now, Maia is expected to take on Muhammad at UFC 263, on June 12, in Glendale, Arizona. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a middleweight title fight between the champion, Israel Adesanya, and challenger Marvin Vettori.