(Yep, that’s about where most of those guys who said they were going to keep it standing usually end up.)
When I spoke to Demian Maia for an SI.com feature on his fight with Nate Marquardt at UFC 102 this weekend, he seemed resigned to the knowledge that everyone, including his opponent, knows exactly what he wants to do when he steps in the Octagon. He also doesn’t really care, why should he? It’s worked perfectly so far, and if he can extend his record to a perfect 11-0 in Portland, Oregon on Saturday night, he just might earn himself a title shot. At least, he thinks so.
We haven’t seen you in the Octagon since your victory over Chael Sonnen back in February. How has your training progressed since then and how has the preparation for this bout gone?
Training was perfect. Can’t be better. I’m working with the same guys I always work with. Wanderlei Silva, my boxing coach, my wrestling coach, and all the guys who support me and help me for every fight.
Do you think Nate Marquardt will try to avoid going to the ground with you at all costs, or do you think he believes in his ground game enough to match up with you there?
I think he probably believes in his ground game because he’s a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s not easy for me to get to the ground. People try to avoid that with me always. But I’m a much better fighter than I was six months ago when I fought the last time. When I prepare for a fight, I prepare in all fields.
In what way are you a better fighter?
I’ve had a lot of time to develop my technique and add some new things to my game, working on everything, not just jiu-jitsu. I’ve been trying to become a better fighter for six months. I think I have changed since then.
What do you think you have to be careful of against Marquardt?
He doesn’t have one thing that he is the best at, but he’s good at everything. He’s a well-balanced fighter. There’s nothing that he does better than everybody, but there’s nothing he’s not good at either.
Do you think the winner of this fight deserves an immediate title shot against Anderson Silva?
Yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure that who wins here deserves that.
He doesn’t seem that interested in it. His manager suggested that the winner fight Dan Henderson first to see who gets to face Silva.
Yeah, but he’s the middleweight champion. It’s not his choice. If he wants to keep his title, he needs to defend it against whoever the UFC says. That’s his job.
That’s his job.
Do you think you would present a new challenge for him that we haven’t seen before?
Yeah, I’m sure I would. I’m sure about that. It’s a clash of styles. If I win this fight, especially if I submit Nate, I think I will be the guy who most represents the grappling game in the UFC. Anderson, I think, is the best striker right now. It’s interesting for the fans to see this challenge.
Do you think people consider you to be a one-dimensional fighter?
I think so. When you do that like I did, winning almost all my fights by submission, when you get in the Octagon they are waiting for that. They expect it the submission.
Does that bother you?
No, no. The public deserves the best show. They are paying for that. They give our salary by watching and buying stuff. So I should train to do the best I can and give them that, since this is what they want from me and what they are paying for.