It wasn’t the emphatic finish that Kamaru Usman (13-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) wanted, but “The Nigerian Nightmare” did score a dominant decision win over Demian Maia (25-8 MMA, 19-8 UFC).
The welterweight bout was the main event of today’s UFC Fight Night 129show at Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS2 and UFC Fight Pass.
Usman opened the fight with a few slapping low kicks, looking incredibly comfortable on the feet. Maia certainly wanted to get the fight to the floor but fired a few big left hands before finally driving inside. Unfortunately, he was only able to keep Usman down for a brief moment, though as they scrambled up to the feet, Maia was able to get one hook in place and hold a bit of a twister position on the feet. However, referee Leon Roberts didn’t see much action in the awkward position and called for a restart, with the two fighters exchanging a few strikes on the feet before the bell.
Maia landed a few stiff left hands to start the second, though Usman answered with several crisp jabs. Maia failed on another takedown attempt, though Usman wasn’t able to capitalize on a brief headlock. Maia got in deep on a double-leg attempt, but Usman again turned it away after a tense battle. With yet another takedown attempt turned aside shortly after, Maia was forced to stick with his striking, which had some success. Maia pulled guard in the final minute but was unable to do anything from his back.
The two continued to strike in the third, with Maia teasing a few takedown attempts but realizing the difficulty in the task and settling for striking exchanges. Maia dove for a takedown after being swept off-balance but came up short, and his following invitation for Usman to join him on the floor was politely declined. Usman briefly had an odd exchange of slapping the top of Maia’s toes before Roberts brought the fight back to the feet.
An early right hand dropped Maia to the floor in the fourth, and Usman followed to the ground to try and finish. After a few punches, Usman wisely elected to back away and reset with Maia trying to get into a grappling exchange. On the restart, Maia pushed forward and tried to work himself into some form of guard, but Usman controlled from the front and pushed away when the timing was right.
With his face bloodied, Maia continued to seek out opportunities to get the fight in his preferred arena, but Usman kept him away and outworked him on the feet. Maia was game in the striking exchanges, but Usman was just a little quicker, a little more powerful.
Comfortably ahead on the cards in the fifth round, Usman still tried to push forward on the feet, though he again simply smiled and turned around when a prone Maia invited him down to the floor. Unable to get any real offense going, Maia was forced to simply avoid taking too much damage, and Usman cruised to a decision win,
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 129 results include:
- Kamaru Usman def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46) Tatiana Suarez def. Alexa Grasso via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1, 2:44Dominick Reyes def. Jared Cannonier via TKO (punches) Round 1, 2:55Guido Cannetti def. Diego Rivas via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)Andrea Lee def. Veronica Macedo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)Vicente Luque def. Chad Laprise via knockout (punches) Round 1, 4:16Michel Prazeres def. Zak Cummings via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Moreno via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)Poliana Botelho def. Syuri Kondo via TKO (liver kick, punches) Round 1, 0:33Gabriel Benitez def. Humberto Bandenay via knockout (slam, punches) Round 1, 0:39Enrique Barzola def. Brandon Davis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)Frankie Saenz def. Henry Briones via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)Claudio Puelles def. Felipe Silva via submission (kneebar) Round 3, 2:23