UFC started out as an organization Gracie family founded to promote jiu jitsu – but overtime certain anti-jiu jitsu strategies became prevalent and the ruleset was tweaked to favor striking exchanges in order to captivate the fanbase.
Nobody knows this better than Demian Maia. Maia had a resurgence late in his career going a number of bouts without absorbing any significant strikes. In fact it’s the stroke of luck that prevented Demian Maia from submitting Kamaru Usman back.
Maia had one hook and had pinned Usman to the fence when referee Dan Miragliotta decided to separate them for no reason.
Former UFC champion Matt Serra also remarked on the gaffe when it happened:
“Are you getting influenced because you’re maybe hearing some boos in the crowd or something?” said Serra.
“Your job is not to make this s**t entertaining. It’s one thing if a guy is stalling.”
“I get worked up because Demian Maia took that fight like a f**king warrior and he saved that card and he had his position, he had what he wanted. He was this close! We don’t know what would have happened!”
Maia famously struggled with takedowns against high level wrestlers who would opt to stuff them and disengage leading to alienating the audience and a subpar entertainment experience.
But unlike Maia, Charles Oliveira also has very heavy hands which makes him all the more interesting to watch.
The two recently sat down to discuss Oliveira’s performance against Justin Gaethje possibly as a prelude to Oliveira’s clash with Islam Makhachev this fall.
Makhachev comes from a combat sambo background which is basically an amalgamation of jiu-jitsu and striking. But sambo’s reputation in the cage is practically inseparable from the legacy of Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Similar to Nurmagomedov, Oliveira also submitted Gaethje.
Oliveira pointed out that competitive wrestling is very different to MMA due to the fact that the possibility for striking exchanges alters the stance of the wrestler.
“We can say that changing our BJJ to MMA is completely different. Pure BJJ is one thing, BJJ focused on MMA is another.” Oliveira added.
Oliveira acknowledged that he was vary of Gaethje’s calf kick strategy.
“One of my worries was his calf kick so I was dodging my leg all the time. Because of this calf kick, he does it so well it starts to bother.
Gaethje comes from a storied wrestling background but he mostly ignores that in the cage in favor of striking. In addition to it, he was completely unwilling to follow Oliveira to the ground which basically enabled Oliveira to recover on the ground unhindered.
“I took that knock down, and people joked ’cause I sat down – you do what’s most comfortable. I felt it so I’ll sit down”
Maia went on to add that the biggest test for Khabib, if he were to unretire would be Charles Oliveira without a doubt.
And this rings true. While Makhachev previously showed reluctance to engage top level blackbelts on the ground, Khabib Nurmagomedov certainly wouldn’t.
The two outlined the edge Charles has against his opponents:
“Charles can knock you out, the guy is careful with the knockout, but he’s also desperate to not be taken down.”