Sometimes it seems counterintuitive to suggest that a loss is ever a good thing. To be certain, every athlete with a proper competitive drive longs to win every round of every fight. However, as Demian Maia heads into his fight at UFC 109, I wonder if we will see a more focused Maia than we've seen yet. If so, it will benefit the jiu-jitsu world champion greatly, as Dan Miller is a very strong opponent. Maia's loss happened relatively early on in his career, and shouldn't have pushed him back too far in the middleweight mix, especially when one considers that practically all of his fellow contenders at 185 pounds (including Marquardt) have lost multiple times. Many coaches from all sports (not just fighting) will tell you that it's beneficial to know not just what you are, as an athlete. It can first be beneficial to know what you are not. Kelvin wrote a good piece in the aftermath of Maia's KO loss to Marquardt, highlighting how bad of a strategic move that it was for Maia to come out throwing a kick the way that he did, especially against an experienced, skilled MMA counterstriker.
It's my hope that Maia has learned from that experience and realizes that (as occasional MMA For Real contributer Jake Whitfield recently pointed out so eloquently) he'll need to play to his strengths as a jiu-jitsu fighter and adopt a different strategy in the future, especially at this level of MMA. Does Maia have the well roundedness to survive in similar exchanges where he'll be tested in the future? I don't know. But what I do expect is that he'll be more discerning in the future when it comes to setting up his attacks. And part of that will include knowing himself as a fighter, what his strengths are and are not in relation to the opponent that he is facing. I may be in the minority but I still believe that Maia can defeat Marquardt and that he could possibly even become the middleweight champion some day (likely after Silva vacates the division). This is probably the fight that I'm most looking forward to at UFC 109. What do you think? Will we see Maia bounce back successfully in his coming fights?