Demian Maia vs Ben Askren
Before i state my prediction, lets get the stats out the way. Maia will come in with a two inch height advantage whilst Askren will hold a one inch reach advantage. The minimal differences mean theres nothing really to report here.
Maia comes into the bout with a record of 27-9-0 and on a two fight winning streak. Although Maia isnt an elite striker (in fact he tends to gas out quickly), he does possess a stiff jab and a few decent combinantions, opposed to Askren who’s striking skill set is literally non existent. Its clear as day that if this fight was to remain on the feet Maia holds the clear advantage. Like Askren, Maia is recognised for his outstanding ground game with 13 of his fights ending in submissions. He’s a fourth degree black belt and widely regarded as having one of the best jiu jitsu skill-sets in the whole of the UFC.
As for Askren, although he’s endured a shaky start to his UFC career being close to finished by Lawler and KO’d viciously by Masvidal. Askrens 19-1-0 record speaks volumes as to how impressive his wrestling is and his ability to get the job done. Theres no doubt in my mind that this fight is going straight to the ground and staying there, especially with Askren holding a very impressive take-down average of 4.39 for ever 15 minutes of octagon,
Post Maia’s infamous 7 fight win streak between 2014 and 2017, he went on to lose three times on the trot. Maia was defeated by Woodley, Covington and Usman. All three are elite wrestlers and you could certainly make an argument as to Askren being a better wrestler than all three. Also most of Maia’s submissions have come from taking his opponents back, due to Askren’s unorthodox, funky, headfirst style of wrestling, its certainly going to be difficult for Maia to get Askren where he wants him.
This is make or break time for Askren, his KO loss to Masvidal wont be forgotten anytime soon but this could be a start on the road of redemption. After a controversial win against Lawler and an embarrasing 5 second loss to Masvidal, if he really has his eyes on the belt he needs to show us he can win in a dominating fashion.
Despite the increasing pressure and better striking skill set, styles make fights and because of Maia’s previous stuggles with wrestlers, i think that Askren’s funky wrestling will get the better of Maia’s jiu jitsu.
Prediction – Askren via Unanimous Decision