One fighter will continue his climb and the other will fall when Demian Maia meets Kendall Grove in a middleweight bout on Saturday's "The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale." Here is MMA For Real's preview of the fight:
Record: 13-2-0 overall, 7-2-0 UFC
Key wins: Nate Quarry (UFC 91), Chael Sonnen (UFC 95)
How he got here: A Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, Demian Maia jumped onto the scene in late 2007 with an impressive submission of Ryan Jensen. Maia's legend grew as he quickly submitted Ed Herman, Jason MacDonald, Nate Quarry and Chael Sonnen with only MacDonald making it to the third round. Maia met Nate Marquardt with the chance to earn a title shot at UFC 102, but he was quickly flattened in just 21 seconds. He rebounded with a decision win against Dan Miller at UFC 109 — one in which he decided to test his standing skills. Maia then got a call to fight Anderson Silva for the middleweight title in Abu Dhabi just two months later. In one of the more bizarre fights of all-time, Silva toyed with Maia in the early-going before just shutting off as Maia gained courage in the later rounds. He lost convincingly, but showed he was tougher than many thought. Since, Maia beat a tough-to-finish Mario Miranda by decision at UFC 118 in August.
How he gets it done: When you hear the name "Demian Maia" you should immediately think "submissions." It's with good reason, too, as Maia has finished eight of his 13 wins by submission. In addition, he has three decisions and two TKO's to his credit. Triangle chokes and rear-naked chokes have been Maia's go-to moves in the UFC.
Record: 12-7-0 overall (1 NC), 7-4-0 UFC
Key wins: Ed Herman (The Ultimate Fighter 3 Finale), Alan Belcher (UFC 69),
How he got here: The middleweight winner of "The Ultimate Fighter 3," Kendall Grove has had an up-and-down career in the UFC ever since Patrick Cote snapped Grove's UFC-career opening three-fight winning streak at UFC 74. Grove's UFC career then was put on notice when he was knocked out by Jorge Rivera at UFC 80. He then went into a self-admitted "loser leaves town" match with Evan Tanner at "The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale." Grove won by split decision, saving his job. Since beating Jason Day at UFC 96, Grove had alternated wins and losses, losing to Ricardo Almeida and Mark Munoz and beating Jake Rosholt and Goran Reljic, neither of whom are in the UFC anymore.
How he gets it done: At 6-foot-6, Grove is extremely tall for this weight class and mainly uses his height to his advantage on the ground where he has racked up seven of his 12 wins by submission. In addition, he's won three fights by decision and two by TKO. Grove's submission skills are such that he almost was able to submit black belt Ricardo Almeida at UFC 101. It's his inability to take a shot that has held Grove back, which is something he won't have to worry about much with Maia. Five of his seven losses have come by KO or TKO with one by submission and one by decision.
Bottom line: This is an interesting fight and a good test for both Maia and Grove to see where they stand right now. Maia looked fine against Miranda but not outstanding. Grove went tooth-and-nail with Reljic. Maia is an overwhelming favorite in the eyes of the bettors and in my eyes, too. Unless Grove can really get his striking going, he's going to be in tough shape. I see this playing out much like Grove's fight with Almeida. He'll have some solid hope at times, but Maia is going to be too much. Maia takes a unanimous decision.
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