Saturday, September 5, 2009

UFC 102 Analysis Part 3: Marquardt vs. Maia

Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia

Prediction: Maia, Rd. 1 by Submission

Result: Marquardt, Rd. 1 by KO

And that’s pretty much the entire fight right there. But, I will say right now that I’ve got a lot to talk about for this short little fight. Even if it was only 20 seconds long, a fight is a fight, and as Sun Tzu says, battles are determined before anyone even sets foot on the field.

So what happened? Maia opened up with leg kicks, Marquardt got the rhythm, then timed a perfect counter. In terms of technical skills, it was a great counter, and Maia really needs to keep his hands up when throwing those kicks. Some Muay Thai coaches have their student drop their arms to add more momentum and force to the kick, but I don’t agree with this for the exact reason shown above. We evolved to have a lot of important things on our face, protecting it should always be priority number one. Obviously, it you’re ridiculously talented like Anderson Silva you don’t have to keep your hands up to do so, but we can’t all be Anderson Silva.

I predicted this fight for Maia for a couple of reasons, the first being my impression of Marquardt during his interview, where he kept asserting that his submission game was just as good as Maia’s. This led me to believe he would try grappling with Maia, not getting angry and just punching him in the face. I also thought that Maia’s specialized skill set would prevent him from taking significant damage on their feet, since his past matches have always resulted in him weathering the early storm of strikes to get onto the ground. I overestimated Maia’s chin or I underestimated Marquardt’s power, but it should be known that in this sport, it’s true that anything can happen. If we’re on the subject of Anderson Silva, anyone can just Google up his fight with Ryo Chonan, where a single move makes the difference between victory and defeat.

So why else did I give the fight to Maia? To be honest about my own biases, yes, I tend to favor the grapplers. It’s a belief of mine that skill should beat power, brains should be brawn. This is not to say that Marquardt isn’t skilled or brainy. Simply by looking at the result, Marquardt definitely displayed amazing skill and brains by using a technique he said he had only learned the week before.

What really dazzles me about Maia is a combination of his style and his philosophy behind it. He’s not a violent person, not for a fighter, anyway. He’s said again and again that he’s not interested in hurting people, and you can tell by the way he fights that he wants to win in the least violent way possible. I admire this kind of attitude, a refreshing and welcome change to fighters like Brock Lesnar or Kimbo Slice, who use their power and strength for the express purpose of winning matches violently. I think that Maia’s beliefs about fighting, in addition to his amazing talent for Jiu-jitsu, is what makes him such a favorite of mine.

But this brings up the hard truth of the matter: Maia lost, and lost violently. Does this mean that his style, his philosophy, is wrong? Should we shrug our shoulders and say it was nice while it lasted? Hardly! Maia’s loss means nothing more than that Marquardt saw an opportunity and capitalized on it. It doesn’t discount Maia’s previous fights and victories, and it certainly doesn’t invalidate his way of fighting. Maybe he’ll win his next fight, maybe he’ll be canned from the UFC. Maia, after all, is only human, and humans make mistakes, hit obstacles. But his ideas, on the other hand, will continue to live on, especially as Maia continues to do what he believes in. Regardless of whether it works or not, I think it’s important for fighters like Demian Maia to stay in the limelight. He reminds us that martial arts don’t have to hard-hitting, don’t have to be aggressive. It is, after all, more than just violence.

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