On Saturday night, the UFC takes a trip to Singapore for the third consecutive year with a headliner made for anyone who’s never shouted “Stand them up!” at a referee. It’s a relatively lackluster card on the whole with a few good fights sprinkled throughout. In the main event Ben Askren, coming fresh off his first loss to Jorge Masvidal, takes on Demian Maia who’s coming in hot after two decisive victories in 2019.
Both Askren and Maia feel like throwbacks from a simpler time in MMA. A time when fighters were only ever one thing. Fighters either took it to the ground or did everything they could to keep it standing, it was as simple as that. Both fighters are grapplers in the truest sense of the word but with wildly different styles. Askren comes from a folkstyle wrestling background whereas Maia is a BJJ black belt and ADCC world champion.
Askren is a folkstyle wrestler at heart and it shows in his fighting style. Once he manages to take his opponent down, he focuses on wrist control and maintaining a strong riding position. This allows him to keep them broken down at all times, winning round after round. He takes full advantage of any opportunities for ground and pound but is content to wear his opponent down gradually. He’s opportunistic with his submissions and this doesn’t tend to be his main goal, although he does have a mean arm-triangle choke.
Maia’s standing grappling is nowhere near Askren’s level, but he’s definitely just as relentless. Maia often fails on the takedown but doesn’t mind pulling guard off a failed shot. He’s happy getting the fight to the ground no matter what position he’s in. Whether he has to fight off his back or from top position, Maia constantly looks to take the back and rarely fails. Once he’s secured the position, it’s only a matter of time before he sinks the choke in. If Maia doesn’t get the finish, the decision could go either way as he’s often content to fight off his back and can lose an entire round from there.
It’s hard to judge how this fight will go on the night considering that Maia should welcome Askren’s takedown attempts. If Askren decides to keep it standing then Maia should be able to outpoint him as the better striker. Askren should be able to avoid being reckless enough to give up his neck. That being said, he won’t have the grappling advantage he’s used to and might be less willing to take him down in the later rounds.
Prediction: Demian Maia beats Ben Askren via Decision.