Jon Fitch (24-4-1-1) vs. Demian Maia (17-4-0)
This is probably the last run toward the title either of these fighters will have. Fitch’s knockout loss to Hendricks and subsequent time off could not have been better for him as he came back a completely different fighter. In his win over Erick Silva he was actually exciting and looking for the finish – which was completely different from his matches before the loss. The same can be said about Maia and his drop down to 170. Before the drop in weight classes, he was content to try and stand with his opponents, and now at welterweight he has finished two fighters in the first round based off of ground work.
It is obvious that Maia has the ability to submit anyone on the ground, and while Fitch’s defense looked sharp in the Silva fight, he still got caught. The problem for Fitch is that Maia’s ground game has to be the best in almost any division, because he can probably submit any fighter if he got the chance. The question is whether or not Maia can take Fitch to the ground considering Fitch’s wrestling pedigree. That will be the important part of the fight, because Fitch may dictate if this fight goes to the ground or not.
If the fight stays standing, the two fighters might be even in terms of their ability. Neither of them have knockout power, but both have fought long enough to be competent. Maia has shown to be more well-rounded by throwing kicks. Fitch on the other hand has a longer reach, which he will need to use to keep Maia away so he will not tie up for takedowns.
The Bottom Line:
Fitch has shown that he can get caught in submissions even if he is hard to finish. At some point he will take the fight to the ground, and that is when Maia will be able to reverse to where he can catch him. Maia by second-round submission.