When you scan the UFC roster for the best jiu-jitsu practitioner in mixed martial arts, there is no doubt that Demian Maia is at the top. However, fellow welterweight Jake Shields wants to prove his skills on the mat and he has a great opportunity tonight at UFC Fight Night 29 at the Jose Correa Arena.
Shields was discussing his upcoming main event bout and made it clear that he wants to beat Maia at his own game and show that he is also one of the best jiu-jitsu players in the sport.
“He’s not really complex and he doesn’t do crazy stuff,” Shields said. “What he does, though, he does so well and so perfect. I’ve been watching videos of his fights and paying attention to the details, and it’s just the details. You make one mistake and he gets something. … He has the same moves, but he does them perfectly.”
So Shields will try to get Maia down and then find a way to submit arguably the finest jiu-jitsu fighter in the UFC, knowing that one false move could lead to a Maia victory.
Part of Shields’ interest in going to the ground with Maia is just that, knowing that he’s wading into a danger zone. It will keep him more alert and allow him to fight with a heightened awareness that in turn will make him better.
If Maia and Shields keep the fight on the ground, it is going to be interesting to see how things play out.
Shields has the advantage when it comes to wrestling, but Maia always is able to find himself in the best position during scrambles. There is a chance that their skill on the ground could cancel each other out and treat us to a stand up affair, but we can hope to see some beautiful groundwork on display when the two men enter the octagon on Wednesday night.