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Maia chooses Las Vegas for business rather than pleasure

Submission specialist trains in Sin City to focus on upcoming fight


Steve Marcus

Mixed martial arts fighter Demian Maia, right, talks to reporters during a recent workout at the Xtreme Couture gym in preparation for his UFC 91 match against Nate Quarry Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Beyond the Sun

While the majority of travelers come to Las Vegas to forget their daily lives, have some fun, and just maybe get a little crazy, Demian Maia’s sole mission in Sin City is to concentrate on his daily routine, avoid fun altogether and leave the craziness back in Brazil.

“It’s perfect. Eat, train, sleep; eat, train, sleep,” said Maia with a big smile.

“Of course I come here to get ready to fight, not go out and party. Hey, I enjoy Las Vegas like everyone, but I’ll come back for vacation after the fight.”

Maia’s discipline serves as part of the reason he’s racked up a perfect 9-0 mark in his mixed martial arts career. That and his much hyped Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.

All three of his UFC wins have come via choke holds, including his last victory over Jason MacDonald at UFC 87, when he applied a rear naked choke in the third round.

“I cannot forget my roots. That’s what helps me win fights,” Maia said of jiu-jitsu, which he started learning at 19, then later became a world champion in the art.

“I had good teachers and I loved to compete in jiu-jitsu. I was doing good, a world champ, but I always knew I wanted to fight.”

In 2005, Maia won his first fight, submitting Lukas Chlewicki with an arm bar in Helsinki, Finland.

He won his next three fights all in his native Brazil before winning his first match in the states with a TKO over Ryan Stout because of injury. But Maia proved he was no fluke to American audiences, recording wins by submission over Ryan Jensen, Ed Herman and MacDonald all after signing a contract with the UFC in August of 2007.

But the submission specialist says he’s not as impressed with himself as his fans are.

“You can always get better, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I always try to improve my stand-up game, it’s very important for me,” said Maia, who was joined on his fourth training trip to Las Vegas by his Brazilian boxing coach, Andre Lopes.

“Training’s been very good. I’ve trained with Randy Couture and been working with my good friend Wanderlei Silva.

“Here I’m completely focused. I don’t have to worry about my family or friends back home in Brazil. I think I’m in good shape for Saturday night.”

The 31-year-old Maia faces 36-year-old Nate Quarry (16-2) in a middleweight showdown at UFC 91 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“His game is more of a standup one,” Maia said of Quarry, who was on "The Ultimate Fighter 1." “Good striking, good base. It’s a hard game to beat.

“He fights hard all the time, he’s a good opponent for me. It’s going to be a nice fight. He’s aggressive and that’s good. I like to put on a good show.”

If that happens, Maia will likely get to enjoy one of Las Vegas’ own extravagant shows. But, of course, that’s for when his wife, Renata, and him comeback on vacation.

“This trip I’m strictly focused on fighting, I’ll save the fun for later,” he said.

Andy Samuelson is a sports writer/editor for the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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