Welterweight Demian Maia has been with the UFC for over 15 years, but it seems like he won’t be seen in action anymore. He has been under contract since 2007.
The grappling artist returned to action after a year against Belal Muhammad at UFC 263. The 43-year-old suffered a loss via unanimous decision, but he gave Muhammad a run for his money in the three-round fight.
He kept sublime pressure on Muhammad in the first round but faltered as the fight progressed. This was his last fight on the contract, the second loss in a row and 11th career loss.
Speaking to media after the star-studded event, UFC President Dana White praised the illustrious career of Maia but hinted at not renewing his contract.
He said: “I think that was his last fight. It was the last fight on his deal. He’s [43 years old]. He’s been so good at getting in there, securing the takedown, getting on top of people and just strangling them or grabbing something and twisting it until you quit, and he couldn’t get it done tonight.”
“He’s [43 years old], he’s a great guy, he’s had a great career, and yes, I would say that’s probably it.”
Maia himself has been hinting at hanging his gloves since before he fought Gilbert Burns. In the build-up to his fight against Burns in March 2020, Maia said that he will consider leaving the sport if he wins the bout.
Unfortunately, the MMA veteran lost via first-round TKO.
During an interview with MMA Junkie before fighting Belal Muhammad, Maia had a similar stance on his retirement plans.
“I’m near the end, and it could be the last fight, but, you know, I’ve been performing so well in training camp, and I’ve been feeling so well that I could do one more, a couple more – most likely one more after that,” he said.
The 43-year-old had said that he might stick around a little longer if he puts up a sublime display at UFC 263 that entices Dana White to put him in the spotlight a little bit longer.
“Of course, it depends, because you perform well in the training camp, and sometimes, you know, you cannot translate it to the Octagon, and so if I can translate well and, of course, UFC and Dana (White), they want me to do one more fight, I would do it. If not, then, you know, it would be the last one,” Maia added.
On the other hand, Belal Muhammad feels that his win over Maia makes him the No. 1 contender for the welterweight title. During a backstage interview after the victory, the 32-year-old explained what it is like to grapple with the MMA veteran.
“That was one of those tough fights where you always think about fighting Demian Maia, how it’s going to be, and then all of a sudden, he gets you down in the first round and you’re like, ‘Oh crap, I was not expecting that’,” Muhammad said.
“Then it’s being patient, being smart. I’ve trained for this, I’ve been in bad spots like these before.”