Demian Maia is only a few months shy of his 44th birthday and is closing in on his 40th professional MMA fight, but it appears that his upcoming fight against Belal Muhammad at UFC 263 might actually be his last. He spoke to reporters ahead of the fight and footage of the media day was uploaded to the official YouTube channel for MMA Junkie. It’s undeniable that Maia is coming to the end of his storied career and at his age, he’s outlasted the vast majority of MMA fighters by several years. When asked if Belal Muhammad would be his final fight, he said the following:
“This will depend on Saturday. Of course I’m near the end and it could be the last fight. But you know what, I’ve been performing so well in training camp and I’ve been feeling so well that I could do one more, a couple more. Most likely one more… but of course it depends, because you perform as well in the training camp, and sometimes you cannot translate to the Octagon… If not, it will be the last one…”
It’s a similar response that has been given dozens of times before by fighters after losing a fight late into their career, but it’s unusual to see someone aware of the difficulty of performing on the night at a later age prior to the fight actually taking place. Of course, Maia is not your average fighter. He’s a 5th degree black belt in BJJ with an ADCC World Championship medal and a pair of title-shots in his UFC career. He’s trained with some of the best grapplers on the planet on a regular basis and learned valuable lessons from some of the greats like Rickson Gracie.
If UFC 263 does turn out to be the final fight of his career, Demian Maia is at least happy that he will be able to perform in front of a live crowd for the first time in a while:
“I don’t want to end up my career without a crowd. It would be so, so sad, at least my opinion. And thank God events just came back to normal and are coming back slowly… that’s why I’m here. I’m very glad for that.”