Demian Maia to face Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira in first grappling match since UFC release

Demian Maia is set to make his long-awaited return to competitive grappling.

After a 14-year UFC career that saw him earn title shots in two different weight classes, Maia will now return to his first martial art, BJJ. On Saturday, April 30 at BJJ Stars 8, Maia will take on fellow UFC veteran Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira in a no-gi superfight. It will be Maia’s first grappling match since 2007.

Maia is widely considered one of the best ever representatives of jiu-jitsu in MMA. Across his 28 career wins, 14 came by way of submission, including four UFC submission of the night winners. Maia has not competed since his June 2021 decision loss to Belal Muhammad at UFC 263. Shortly after that bout, the UFC declined to renew Maia’s contract.

Maia is an accomplished jiu-jitsu and grappling competitor. He was a 2005 ADCC silver medalist and a 2007 ADCC champion, and holds notable wins over Saulo Ribeiro, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and Rafael Lovato, Jr.

Oliveira has nowhere near the grappling accolades or accomplishments as Maia, and will be the underdog in this match-up. What he does have, though, is a wealth of experience at the highest levels of MMA. He enjoyed a seven-year UFC career that, like Maia’s recently came to an end. Known for his wild, brawling style, Oliveira owns three submission wins in the UFC.

How to watch: BJJ Stars 8 takes place on Saturday, April 30 and will air live on FloGrappling (subscription required).

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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