Maia Hopes Dana White Keeps Title Shot Promise

Unfortunate timing is the only thing that has kept Demian Maia from receiving his deserved shot at the coveted UFC welterweight title. With the champion preparing for a rematch of his last fight, Maia is content with waiting for his shot, but he’s been feeling the pressure from other top contenders to take another fight.

The 39-year old Brazilian fighter is riding a seven-fight win streak, the most impressive in the welterweight division. When he defeated former title challenger Carlos Condit it August, he was all but guaranteed a shot at the winner of the November title fight between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson.

Then, the unthinkable happened: Woodley and Thompson fought to a draw at UFC 205, in a “Fight of the Night” that left many fans calling for a rematch. Again, Maia was kept on the sidelines. Woodley and Thompson will fight again at UFC 209 in March.

Maia, knowing how far he has come to emerge at the top contender in the welterweight division, has chosen to wait for those two to settle their fight once again. He turned down an offer to fight former champion Robbie Lawler late last year. Jorge Masvidal, who recently had his most emphatic win in stopping Donald Cerrone in Denver, recently said that Maia turned down a fight with him as well.

In typically classy fashion, Maia posted a lengthy message on his Facebook page explaining his situation and responding to Masvidal’s claims.

“When Dana White said at UFC NY post fight press conference, after Wonderboy and Woodley fought to a draw for the WW title, that I would get the next shot if I want to wait or I could fight somebody else, my understanding was that I had earned my title shot and that it was going to happen sooner or later, and it was my choice if I wanted to remain active or not,” Maia wrote. “I have the biggest respect for Dana, I trust him, and I had seen how Woodley could wait for longer than a year and get his title shot, that ultimately crowned him as a champion, so why would I believe it would be any different with me?

“I have fought many of the top fighters at MW and WW, including maybe the best ever at his prime, and I never had any problem fighting anyone at the right time. I would fight anyone at WW for a belt right now, interim or linear, and when we got the Masvidal fight offered we explained our reasons for being frustrated and wanting to wait for a title shot, how the proposed card could impact us financially, but said we would discuss it and come up with a decision. We [hadn’t] even said ‘no’ yet, when news starting to pop up that we had declined the fight. Fair enough I guess, as it’s not what we had in mind anyways.

“During the course of my WW journey, I have seen other fighters get title shots with win streaks that went from just one win, to three wins, and even people get a title shot coming of a loss,” Maia continued. “The only exceptions were (Johny) Hendricks on his first title shot, and Wonderboy on his title shot, and I always went on record agreeing and understanding that they were the rightful contenders.

“Even though I was naturally frustrated, I understood that a draw between Wonderboy and Woodley warranted a rematch, even though I had a different take on their fight. But with their next fight just four weeks away, why can’t I have my shot after they fight? If others got their opportunities with less wins, or sometimes close fights? If the next WW fight was months away, I could understand any urgency, or a scenario where people feel other guys had to have their chance to claim a spot as the next contender right away. But the WW title fight is pretty much one month away, so it seems only natural to wait, and finally have my chance at WW, as this is what I really care about."

After losing a unanimous decision to eventual top contender Rory MacDonald, Maia went on the most impressive run of his career, dispatching Neil Magny, Matt Brown, Gunnar Nelson and Carlos Condit all in dominant, lopsided victories. It has been years since a fighter has given Maia even the faintest bit of trouble in the cage, as the jiu-jitsu wizard has taken almost no damage in his last handful of fights.

Maia understands the importance of staying active, but for a fighter of his experience with only a few years left in the game, he cannot risk losing his opportunity to compete for the title.

“This is a sport in the end, and even though it’s entertainment, there is no reason why it can’t be treated as a sport and still entertain lots of people. Whatever happens next, I trust Dana and the UFC, a place I have been calling home for the last 10 years, and I’ll continue on my path to become the best I can be.”

Read Maia’s full statement here.

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