UFC 263: Belal Muhammad defeated Demian Maia.
Belal Muhammad defeated Demian Maia via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), at UFC 263 on Saturday, June 12, 2021, live from the Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ.
The fight got underway with a touch of gloves. Maia landed a takedown but was not able to keep Muhammad on the ground. Undiscouraged, Maia went for a second single-leg takedown. Muhammad was able to hop back to the fence and escape the takedown. The fighters spent most of the first round battling for position. The second round was much better for Muhammad, who was able to keep the fight standing. Muhammad was able to circle and land several shots. Maia struggled to get anything going and had his takedown attempts stuffed.
Entering the third round, both fighters knew that whoever won the final round would win the fight. Maia went for an early takedown but Muhammad was able to escape. Muhammad landed a pair of powerful strikes and continued to throw and land first. Maia had another takedown easily defended by Muhammad. Maia’s right eye was starting to swell up as Muhammad repeatedly landed quick left hands. Maia went for another single-leg takedown that was defended by Muhammad, who continued to land his sharp strikes. Again, Maia went for another single-leg takedown, only to have Muhammad successfully defend it again. The third round ended with both fighters up against the fence engaged in a clinch.
Maia returned to the Octagon for the first time in 15 months, in what could be the last fight in his UFC career. At 43-years-old, Maia is one of the oldest fighters on the UFC roster. Maia made his debut at UFC 77, submitting Ryan Jensen in the first round. Nearly 14 years later, Maia entered UFC 263 as the ninth-ranked fighter in the division.
Muhammad entered Saturday’s fight as the 12th ranked welterweight and unbeaten in his last five fights. In his last fight, Muhammad fought third-ranked Leon Edwards, who is fighting Nate Diaz on the UFC 263 card. The fight ended in a no-contest after an accidental eye-poke rendered Muhammad unable to continue. The win over Maia was the biggest of Muhammad’s career and improved his record to 19-3, with one no-contest.