Ready to fight Chael Sonnen at UFC 95, Demian Maia knows that the American isn’t an easy fight. “The man who defeated Paulo Filho” always includes every report about him, and the Brazilian knows that he’ll have to be in shape to put him down and do what he knows best: Jiu-Jitsu. In an exclusive interview to TATAME.com, the undefeated middleweight spoke about his expectations for the fight, the training with Wanderlei Silva, his bets to Anderson vs. Thales, a possible fight with Anderson Silva, if he remains the champion, TUF 8 and ADCC 2009. Check below the exclusive interview with Demian.
What do you expect of this fight against Chael Sonnen?
Of course he is a tricky opponent, he’s very strategic, will try to annul my game all the time, will try to make his points and try to stay away from the ground, not to expose and try to win the fight on points, this is what is complicated about him. He is a guy with a high level of Greco, Grappling, always efficient for a MMA fight. But I believe in my Jiu-Jitsu, I believe I can submit him the same way I did in other fights.
What do you expect of the fight between Thales and Anderson?
It is a very difficult fight, and I want to watch it. Thales is a man of very high level of Jiu-Jitsu and Anderson is the best in the world, nowadays, in the MMA. I believe a lot in Jiu-Jitsu, then I think that Thales is able to deal with Anderson, but I won’t adventure a guess, because he has a great Jiu-Jitsu, but Anderson is an opponent that has no words to describe. To me, he's the best MMA fighter pound for pound in the world.
If you win this fight and get a titleshot, what would be the way for you to win Anderson Silva?
If he is the champion when I fight, that I hope it happens soon, it would be the obvious way that everybody knows, that would be take the fight to my area, which is the Jiu-Jitsu. And his, to beat me, is to keep me in his area that is the part of Muay Thai, the fight on foot. This isn’t a secret, but just on the time you see what way the fight will take, sometimes surprises happen, I can have a lucky punch on foot, like Napão (Gabriel Gonzaga) on Cro Cop, give a standing knockout, and he can take me down and submit me on the ground. Fighting is fighting, you never know what will happen.
And how was your experience at The Ultimate Fighter? You were invited to join Frank Mir's team against Minotauro’s team. How was that experience?
My manager, Jim Albert, invited me, said it was a great show. He spoke about me to Frank, who invited me by Jim's influence. It was a great experience, I trained the boys, helped them with what I could in Jiu-Jitsu, you have to get used to the cameras, it’s a realty show, it’s a different timing. Despite of being against the Minotauro’s team, who is also my friend, everybody was together. Behind the scenes, we stayed talking, even Minotauro and Frank too, laughing, Amauri (Bitetti), the Brazilians, me, Robert (Drysdale)... it was very nice.
How was the experience of starting to train with Wanderlei Silva?
I watched his first MMA fight here in São Paulo, when I was a kid. It’s a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to train with a guy who I believe will be champion again, but that was, for many years, unbeaten and the world's best. He and Minotauro, who until today I think are the best representatives that Brazil already had. Anderson is very well today, but with certainty of constancy and victories, Minotauro and Wanderlei are the two most representative Brazilian fighters in the history of the MMA, today. It’s an honor to train with him and have the doors open, all he helps me and teaches me, the great person he is, just makes me happy.
You also train with Alejarra, Wanderlei’s physical coach, and you’re even bringing him to São Paulo. What is the differential of his trainings?
He’s an excellent professional, technically speaking. He knows a lot of physical preparation, of physiology, of everything. He knows how to do the training. It has also excellent coaches in the technical part, but is this psychological part and that motivates you, he is one of the few. This is what makes him unique, he is excellent in that part. He adds that with the heart, the love on what he does, to put up, which is very rare to happen.
You're next get a titleshot in the UFC, but we can’t forget that you won the last ADCC and you’re automatically invited to defend your title. What do you expect of this competition in this category, are you motivated to this? Will you fight it?
I’m very motivated, I want to fight for sure. It will depend on if I don’t have a fight in the UFC next to it, I which is a little later. If it is before, fine. However, if it will be a little later, is complicated for me because I will be in preparation for the UFC fight and I can’t break it to fight the ADCC. For me, is the second goal. Winning the UFC’s title is the first and then be two time champions of the ADCC.