According to Demian Maia, the best MMA grappler of all time is actually Khabib Nurmagomedov. The UFC welterweight and middleweight title-contender made the claim on a recent episode of Real Quick with Mike Swick and shocked many fans with his statement. Primarily because, for many elite MMA competitors like Ryan Hall, Maia himself is actually considered the best MMA grappler in the history of the sport. Of course, for those that know Maia’s personality, declaring himself to be the greatest was never really an option.
While he knows that he’s certainly right up there at the top of the pile, Maia has always been known as a very reserved and humble character so he picked the undefeated and now retired UFC lightweight world champion over himself when asked:
“Khabib, before me, is the best of all time. He’s great and I remember something that is stuck in my head. This really stuck in my head when I fighting I think it was my first fight as a welterweight. One of my coaches, Leonardo Vieira, who also was one of my professors since I was a blue belt. And he’s a phenomenal jiujitsu guy. He’s amazing. Leo was with me and we are training at, I think, MGM or Mandalay Bay during the week. We had a room to train. And then Khabib was in the same room. And Leo spoke to him because Leo’s brother Leandro Vieira trains the AKA guys. Leo told me: ‘This kid is great, he will be a champion.'”
The host Swick even asked for clarification as to whether Maia was referring to Nurmagomedov’s elite wrestling skill alone instead of all-round grappling talent, and Maia was straight to the point in his response:
“No, not just great wrestler. He’s great in jiu jitsu too.”
Below is the clip from this episode of Real Quick with Mike Swick podcast where Demian Maia names Khabib Nurmagomedov as the ‘best MMA grappler of all time’, but the full episode featuring Maia can be seen here:
“Khabib for me is the best of all time” pic.twitter.com/NZdfczwleK
— Riehmann (@RiehmannC) September 30, 2021