Demian Maia is almost universally regarded as one of the best grapplers to ever set foot in the octagon and according to him, a private lesson with the legendary Rickson Gracie changed his approach to Jiu-Jitsu forever. Maia is also among a select group of fighters with a truly impressive resume across a decades-long professional MMA career who’s been surprisingly never been able to cross the final hurdle into becoming a UFC World Champion.
He has had several attempts of course, the first being all the way back in 2010 against Anderson Silva where he lost a unanimous decision for the UFC Middleweight title. Since then, Maia has managed to step into the cage another twenty-four times and worked his way back to another title shot in the Welterweight division against Tyron Woodley in 2017, losing a unanimous decision again. He even has yet another fight booked relatively soon, where he will come up against Belal Muhammad at UFC 263, on June 12th.
As with the majority of big names in BJJ, Demian Maia can trace some inspiration in the art from the infamous Gracie family, or specifically Rickson himself. He recently spoke about a 3 hour private lesson that he had with Rickson and how just that small amount of time with a legend had such a huge impact on his approach to the sport in general, in a video that was uploaded to the official YouTube Channel of BJJ Rotterdam: