In MMA, some fighters feel the roar of the crowd ignite their fire, while others falter at the sign of pressure.
At UFC Fight Night 29, Demian Maia felt jitters inside the octagon while fighting at the Jose Correa Arena down in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Maia knew he was in a close fight, but when he took Shields’ back, the pressure started to get to him and he momentarily froze.
“I think I lost a few positions that I don’t usually lose, maybe from the emotion from fighting at home,” Maia said at the post-fight press conference. “Especially in the third round. I wasn’t able to put a hand in a certain place. I think he felt my punch and I got his back. In any other situation I would’ve submitted him. He happened to sweep and I ended up on the bottom and he spent the rest of the third round holding the fight from the top.
“I don’t know who the judges gave it to. That part was definitely crucial to lose the back in the third round. Also in the first round when I was able to take him down. I thought he was in more dangerous positions than I was but I think taking the back which I never lose is what cost me the fight.”
Even despite feeling jitters, Maia doesn’t necessarily agree with the judges’ decision either. He said he felt that he was up three rounds to two because he stuffed all of Shields’ takedowns in the fifth round and worked his standup at the end of the frame.
“My strategy in the fifth round was defending some takedowns so he’d get tired and have to get some points on my standup,” he said. “I believed it was going to be three rounds to two for me.
“I think I had more dangerous positions. He was able to sweep me in the first round. He won the second round. I think I won the third round and the fourth and fifth. My plan in the fifth round was to defend the takedowns and get some points in the standup but looks like it was the fifth round exactly that the judges gave to him.”
At the end of the day, it was a split decision that Maia won’t soon forget because he knew that he could’ve done more.