The Sunday Aftermath – UFC Fight Night 62: Maia vs. LaFlare

Maia LaFlare

With one of the world’s most famous football stadia painting a shadow nearby, the Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil played host to what was a pretty run of the mill UFC fight night show in the modern era with no big stars but many prospects and a few recognizable names throughout.

Masterful Maia

The biggest name on the card, Damian Maia, stood at the top of that line-up of bouts while, as luck would have it, the biggest prospect on show was his opponent, Ryan LaFlare, in a match-up which had plenty of unknowns due to long absences from competition for both men. Despite the long lay offs, they looked on it from the very outset. Almost immediately, Maia began to paw constantly with his distance-keeping jab which LaFlare attempted to break through with his left hook. Defence was the order of the day early as neither man landed anything of note before Maia wonderfully changed levels and took the fight to the floor with a high crotch single leg takedown. LaFlare attempted to push the Brazilian away with his butterfly guard but found himself with a half guard once Maia had settled into position. From there, Maia expertly passed to side control and then the north/south position before again taking side control on the other side of LaFlare’s body having briefly threatened to take the back. LaFlare, though, did a tremendous job of defending and managed to get the jiu-jitsu black belt back into his half guard again. Maia, though, was relentless in his attacks and mounted LaFlare with two minutes on the clock. Although he did land some good ground and pound, Maia didn’t look to have LaFlare in any grave danger as the round played out.

The second round started in a very tentative manner with neither man wanting to commit too strongly to the striking attack which, again, saw the Maia feeler-jab and the LaFlare counter hook, neither of which did any scoring, on show. LaFlare was the first to attempt a wrestling charge which Maia stuffed by defending a body lock and separating. Maia then immediately went for a takedown of his own but that was also to no avail. On his second takedown attempt, though, the Brazilian did get it south but struggled to establish a position as LaFlare defended well. Eventually, the resistance was broken as Maia took the mount and briefly looked like he might have an arm triangle choke but lost it just before the bell.

Two rounds down, LaFlare entered the third round with an added impetus and was successful with an oft thrown low kick and high punch combination throughout the first half of the period. Midway through the round Maia looked to have LaFlare down but the American did extremely well to stay off of his back from the double leg attempt and threw even harder on the feet after. The second takedown try for Maia in the round looked even more desperate and saw him pushed to his back with LaFlare ending up on top in his guard. The American landed a hard elbow but with the ultra dangerous Maia around he quickly decided to bail. While LaFlare was struggling away, trying to save his leg from a submission attack, Maia somehow garbbed the American, took him down and got the mount to maybe steal the round.

LaFlare started the 4th as he did the third, with some solid combinations, but this time Maia was ready for it and showed some nice counter striking of his own. A body punch from LaFlare seemed the best shot landed in a period where, like much of the rest of the fight, neither man could garner much success on the feet. To the joy of the fans in attendance, Maia was again able get a lock and take LaFlare to the floor where he almost immediately took the mount on the demoralized looking New Yorker. With two minutes left on the clock Maia had plenty of time to go on the attack and, after some ground and pound, slapped on the head and arm choke but was unable to move to side control to finish it due to some more good LaFlare defence.

Maia looked in no mood to strike early in the fifth and literally ran away from exchanges before he had three unsuccessful takedown attempts. For the first time in the fight, LaFlare established some striking rhythm and landed with hooks off both hands. By this stage, Maia’s gas tank was running on fumes and he kept dropping to his back in an attempt to pull guard or just waste time (he did plenty of the latter to the annoyance of both LaFlare and referee John McCarthy). With 90 seconds left in the fight, it was do or die for LaFlare who thumped two body kicks right to the midsection of the former middleweight title contender. Maia, to his credit, didn’t go on the retreat this time and introduced a left hand, which was arguably the biggest shot of the whole fight, to the chin of his opponent. LaFlare ate the shot but Maia was given a second wind by it and he quickly took LaFlare to the floor straight after. LaFlare tried throw up his legs to look for a triangle but against a jiu-jitsu expert like Maia that was always an unlikely prospect, although he did manage to escape and get back to his feet. In the dieing seconds, Maia again nonchalantly threw himself on the ground which led to referee John McCarthy taking a point as the bell sounded. It didn’t matter though as all three judges correctly scored the fight 48-46 the way of Damian Maia after a masterclass of grappling. From here, it’s tough to know where either man goes in the topsy turvy welterweight division. Gunnar Nelson is a long touted opponent for both men with a summer rendezvous with either looking possible although Maia may be looking upwards in the division at this stage of his career.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo9FlDB1-mM?feature=player_detailpage]

Two in a row for Silva

More welterweights were on shown in the co-feature of the night as former title contender Josh Koscheck came in on a little under two week’s notice to face dangerous finisher Erick Silva. Having fought just three weeks ago, Koscheck showed no early signs of cobwebs as he took the centre of the cage and pushed Silva back right off the bat. Although Silva landed a hurtful body kick off the back foot in the opening exchanges, Koscheck remained on the offense: throwing a series of slamming right hands, a couple of which grazed his opponent, either side of some control against the cage.

The first meaningful strike of the bout came almost two minutes in as, after landing another kick to the body, Silva dropped the American with an exocet straight left hand. Koscheck did well to survive but, after a short period on the floor, ate another left hand which again rocked him. At this stage, Silva was in full control of the cage and attacked through the counters of the gritty American with his left hand and left body kick which were money all night.

With a minute left on the clock, Koscheck was rocked again, this time with a right hand, and desperately pushed the Brazilian against the cage in an attempt to survive. It didn’t work. Silva saw his chance and took it as, with Koscheck low on a takedown attempt, he latched onto a standing guillotine. The American looked in big trouble and, when Silva pulled guard to tighten up the choke, he was given no choice but to tap. For Silva, it was his first big UFC scalp and the first time he has put two Octagon wins together in a row. For Koscheck, it might just be the end of what was a pretty incredible career.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgMdKuXBqF8?feature=player_detailpage]

On the undercard, there wasn’t much in the way of big quality but the best of the prospects, Gilbert Burns, did manage to get the late finish while the biggest talking point of the night came in the prelims as the Leandro Silva’s fight against Drew Dober ended in controversial fashion when referee Eduardo Herdy amazingly stopped the fight with Dober still awake and not tapping to what eventually went down as a guillotine choke submission.

Check out the full results below.

Demian Maia def. Ryan LaFlare via unanimous decision
Erick Silva def. Josh Koscheck via submission (R1, 4:21)
Leonardo Santos def. Tony Martin via submission (R2, 2:29)
Amanda Nunes def. Shayna Baszler via TKO (R1, 1:56)
Gilbert Burns def. Alex Oliveira via submission (R3, 4:14)
Godofredo Castro def. Andre Fili via submission (R1, 3:14)
Francisco Trinaldo def. Akbarh Arreola via unanimous decision
Kevin Souza def. Katsunori Kikuno via KO (R1, 1:31)
Leandro Silva def. Drew Dober via submission (R2, 2:45)
Leonardo Mafra def. Cain Carrizosa via unanimous decision
Christos Glagos def. Jorge de Oliveira via submission (R1, 3:12)
Fredy Serrano def. Bentley Syler via KO (R3, 1:34)

Performances of Night Bonus Winners: Souza, Burns, Pepey and Serrano.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma