It feels as though Demian Maia has been in the contender’s queue at welterweight for an eternity now.
Thanks to his seventh consecutive victory, a split verdict over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211 in Dallas on Saturday night, it appears that wait could be nearing it’s end. In the Octagon shortly after his triumph, Maia approached Dana White’s cageside seat and asked for confirmation that his time had arrived, and the UFC president confirmed that a title shot would indeed be next.
If that doesn’t happen, it wouldn’t be the first time something White said in the heat of the moment didn’t come true. For his part, Maia is staying optimistic that he will be the next in line to challenge reigning 170-pound king Tyron Woodley.
“It’s better to believe. What can I do? I must believe,” Maia said. “Like I said, I [won] seven in a row. Who did that in this division? Just [Stephen Thompson]…I think the toughest path for any welterweight to get the title shot was my path. I’m pretty confident that what Dana said is going to happen.”
Even with that confidence, Maia isn’t planning on agonizing over the state of the welterweight division. The 39-year-old Brazilian claimed that he’s been promised a title shot before, only to see things change change course as new contenders emerged.
“That’s something that I have no control of. What I learned lately in my life is don’t get so stressed with things I don’t have control [over]…I just relax and I don’t put this pressure on myself anymore,” he said. “I have achieved so many good things in my life and career. I know I’m going to fight for the title, but I”m not [obsessed] with it. I’m going to talk to Dana and the UFC and do the things the way we need to do.”
White later confirmed that he planned to give Maia the next shot at welterweight gold but disputed the notion that the jiu-jitsu ace had been previously promised a title shot.
“When was he told that before? I was thinking about this when I talked to some of the media yesterday. Nobody deserves anything,” White said. “You’ve got to earn it here…..Maia earned it tonight, yeah.”
However, with numerous obligations looming, Maia didn’t sound too eager to jump right back into the Octagon, title shot or not. Regardless of when he returns, Maia has already given some thought to how he would fare against Woodley.
“I was watching his fight in New York [at UFC 205] against ‘Wonderboy' and I was thinking which one I matched up with better, but I didn’t come to any conclusion,” Maia said. “I saw some things in Tyron’s game that I can capitalize on. I know the gaps that he has.…I know I can win against anyone in this division.”