Demian Maia is prepared to wave goodbye to a 20-plus-year journey in mixed martial arts. Maia, 44, however, wants one last fight inside the UFC Octagon before closing the door on his combat sports career.
Maia (28-11) has competed within reach of a UFC championship since his 2007 debut with the promotion. Maia fought Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title in 2010 and for the welterweight title in 2017. Fast-forward to the 2020s and Maia is still fighting ranked opponents. Coming off a loss to Belal Muhammad in June, Maia desires one last chance to put a stamp on his storied career.
“I am not officially retired,” Maia told “Morning Kombat” on Tuesday. “I want to do one more fight in the UFC but I don’t want to fight in any other event because UFC is my house. It has been my house for the last 15 years. If I get another chance, I will do one more fight there, but I am pretty much more focused on the other parts of my career. I’m still training some MMA. I’m still doing boxing and Thai boxing with takedowns. These kinds of things. I want to keep these sharp if I need to do one more fight.
“At the same time, I’ve focused a lot on jiu-jitsu again, sport jiu-jitsu, because I want to compete more under these kinds of rules. One thing is that I feel pretty healthy. I feel pretty well in terms of conditioning. So I said why not give me a couple more years fighting in jiu-jitsu or MMA and then retire.”
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Maia is a free agent coming off the Muhammad fight. The ADCC gold medalist and two-time jiu-jitsu world champion originally flirted with retirement in 2019. A three-fight winning streak convinced him to make one last push for UFC glory. Maia insists that he will only take an MMA fight in the UFC. The most complicating factor in booking one last fight may be UFC’s desire to sign Maia to a multi-fight deal.
“I am out of my contract,” Maia said. “That was the last one. Actually, the last one was supposed to be Ben Askren — in the previous contract — and that was my goal to retire at that time. But when I won against Ben Askren, it was three in a row. Before Ben Askren, I had two wins in a row and I thought, ‘If I win, I want to do a little bit more.’ So we did a contract for a couple more fights after the Askren fight.
“It depends much more on the UFC than on me, but I would do one more. Of course, they would like to do, for sure, a longer contract but for me, I can do a longer contract but it doesn’t matter because I would [only] do one more fight.”
Maia’s remarkable career includes wins over Askren, Jorge Masvidal, Carlos Condit, Neil Magny, Jon Fitch, Chael Sonnen and Matt Brown. He fought Silva and Tyron Woodley for the 185 and 170-pound titles, respectively. He also traded blows with future champions Kamaru Usman, Chris Weidman and Rory MacDonald.