Kamaru Usman Earns Lopsided Decision Over Demian Maia in UFC Chile Main Event

Kamaru Usman thwarted Demian Maia's grappling game to earn a unanimous decision in in the UFC Fight Night main event from Chile

Kamaru Usman finally earned a win over a top five ranked opponent but it probably wasn’t the performance he was hoping for in his first UFC main event.

The former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ winner was originally matched up with Santiago Ponzinibbio in a classic striker versus grappler matchup for the first ever UFC card in Chile. Unfortunately, Ponzinibbio suffered an injury and he was replaced by former title contender Demian Maia, who is best known for his suffocating grappling game.

As a Division II National Champion in wrestling, Usman definitely had the style best suited to thwart Maia’s grappling game but it didn’t exactly result in the most exciting five round fight when it was all said and done.

Usman, who had never even had a takedown attempted against him since joining the UFC roster, had to fend off Maia’s grappling in the early going as the submission specialist was quick to get inside to grab onto a leg.

Maia was able to get Usman down for a split second before they worked back to the feet, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion wasn’t going to be deterred as he continued to work for dominant grappling positions.

Despite his best efforts, Maia wasn’t able to do much with his grappling and that started to wear away at his conditioning as the second round got underway.

While Usman was a little more cautious engaging Maia, he was still stalking his opponent across the Octagon while throwing a volume of strikes. Usman landed some solid punches throughout while defending every takedown attempt from Maia.

It was very much the same kind of fight during the third round as well with Usman avoiding the takedown and then peppering Maia with strikes from the outside.

With Usman in control, the former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ winner uncorked his best punch of the fight with a right hand that dropped Maia to the mat. Usman quickly followed up with punches on the mat trying to get the finish, but Maia was able to survive the storm before stalling the action to work back to the feet.

Midway through the fourth round, Maia was bleeding from over his left eye with his conditioning waning as the momentum in the fight continued to shift even further into Usman’s favor.

Still, Usman couldn’t find an opening to do enough damage to actually put Maia back down again so he could attempt to get the finish.

As time ticked away in the final round, Usman remained in complete control with Maia constantly circling away from his power hand just trying to avoid the knockout shot. Usman continued to pursue him with striking combinations but just failed to really connect with anything that could have put Maia away.

When it was over, the judges all agreed that Usman had done more than enough to win with scores coming back 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46 all in favor of “The Nigerian Nightmare”.

Following the win, Usman said that he believes he actually broke his right hand in the second round followed by his left hand in the third round, which obviously hurt his ability to throw many power punches in the latter part of the fight.

While it wasn’t the statement performance he wanted, Usman still went out and dominated one of the best welterweights in the sport as he notches his eighth win in a row since joining the UFC roster. Following the win, Usman wasn’t willing to name an opponent he wanted to fight next but rather he invited somebody to call him out instead.

“I’m tired of calling people out and not getting what I ask for. I’m not calling nobody out,” Usman stated. “They need to come fight me. Everybody knows since I got in the game, my social media handle has never changed. Welterweight and I’m coming for that gold strap.”

As for Maia he drops to 0-3 in his past three fights as the former title contender has fallen on hard times since winning seven in a row to earn a title shot. Maia has said he only has so many fights left in his career now that he’s past 40 but age doesn’t seem to be his problem — it’s the constant matchup against top level wrestlers who have been able to completely negate his grappling game for three consecutive fights.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.