Last night, the UFC made its debut in the beautiful South American country of Chile with an exciting, 13-fight card out of the capital of Santiago. The card was topped by a clash of welterweight contenders as surging up-and-comer Kamaru Usman took on dangerous veteran Demian Maia, who replaced the injured Santiago Ponzinibbio on just three weeks notice.
Though Maia was able to give Usman some interesting looks in the first round, Usman surged back in the second, denying all of his foe’s takedown attempts, and battering him on the feet — apparently with two broken hands. By the end of the fifth round, there could be no other option than a lopsided unanimous decision win for Usman.
Shortly after this fight, Maia took to Twitter to issue a quick statement on his loss.
Congratulations to @USMAN84kg for the win. it was a great experience to compete against you. When I took the call 3 weeks ago, I knew it would be a very hard challenge and I’m proud to have come here and done it. You deserved the chance and Chile deserved a card. Best of luck. pic.twitter.com/M27biVDvr5
— Demian Maia (@demianmaia) May 20, 2018
“Congratulations to [Kamaru Usman] for the win,” Maia said in his post-fight statement. “It was a great experience to compete against you. When I took the call 3 weeks ago, I knew it would be a very hard challenge and I’m proud to have come here and done it. You deserved the chance and Chile deserved a card. Best of luck.”
It did not take long for Usman to respond to this typically classy statement from Demian Maia.
“You are a warrior and future hall of famer,” Usman said in his response to Maia. “It was my honor to share the Octagon with you. Nothing but respect.
Needless to say, there’s nothing but respect between these two fighters.
With his win over Maia, Usman improved to a fantastic 13-1 overall. His last eight wins have occurred in the UFC’s Octagon, where he’s bested Hayder Hassan, Leon Edwards, Alexander Yakovlev, Warlley Alves, Sean Strickland, Sergio Moraes, Emil Meek, and of course, Maia.
Maia, meanwhile, has fallen on tough times. After amassing a six-fight win-streak between 2014 and 2017, the Brazilian legend has come up short in a title fight with welterweight champ Tyron Woodley, a followup bout with Colby Covington, and now Usman. All three of Maia’s recent foils stand out as world-class wrestlers. He’s now owns an overall record of 25-9.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/20/2018.