The UFC 131 middleweight bout between Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz and Demian Maia could be the most intriguing bout on the card for me.
It’s a fight with big implications for both fighters. Munoz is looking to make a splash into the middleweight top ten with a win over Maia, and Maia is looking to hold his spot as a top middleweight.
Mark Munoz comes into this fight with an overall record of (10-2) and 5 wins via TKO/KO. He’s won two in a row since dropping a split decision loss to #1 contender Yushin Okami last August. Munoz is an elite wrestler with huge power and a striking game that is improving with every fight.
Demian Maia comes into this fight with an overall record of (14-2) with 8 wins via submission and 2 wins via TKO/KO. Maia has won two in a row since losing in his title shot against Anderson Silva early last year. Maia has shown improved striking ability during his last few fights, but there’s no secret about what his bread and butter is when he’s fighting. He’s looking to submit his opponents.
Munoz is the surprising slight betting favorite in this fight.
Fights are all about stylistic matchups and Munoz matches up really well with Maia here. Munoz should be able to dictate where the fight takes place, so he’ll keep it standing or take Maia down if he feels the need to. Maia’s striking is serviceable but the odds of him knocking Munoz out are pretty small, but of course anything can happen with 4 ounce gloves. On the other hand, Munoz is certainly capable of knocking Maia out standing as we’ve seen Munoz begin to become more fluid and comfortable striking knocking out CB Dollaway in his last outing.
The chances of Maia taking Munoz down are pretty slim. We did see Maia take down an elite wrestler in Chael Sonnen a couple of years ago, but I think Munoz will be prepared for Maia there. Of course, Maia could always pull guard but Munoz could simply just stand back up if he wanted to avoid the ground game. If Maia is able to get the fight to the ground that’s his best chance of winning this fight, and he would have to submit Munoz to win more than likely. Munoz has never been submitted in MMA, but he’s never faced a grappler the caliber of Maia either which makes things interesting. I think it’s fair to note that Maia has gone four straight fights without getting the submission, so obviously fighters have made the proper adjustments to counter Maia’s superb jiu-jitsu skills.
I think Munoz has gained significant confidence in his striking and will choose to keep the fight standing. He’ll either knock Maia out or simply outpoint him mixing in a takedown in here and there to secure the decision win to announce himself as a legitimate contender in the UFC middleweight division.