Maia entered the bout ranked No. 3 in the welterweight division against the fifth ranked Masvidal. In the opening frame, Maia secured an early takedown and controlled “Gamebred” on the ground. He took Masvidal’s back and spent most of the round looking for an opening to lock on a choke. Masvidal eventually shook off the Brazilian and ended the round in top position landing shots.
In the second round, Masvidal defended Maia’s early takedown attempts and delivered hard leg kicks. Midway through the frame, Maia was able to get Masvidal to the canvas. He landed peppering shots hoping to opening up a submission opportunity, but one never came.
The final frame looked identical to the second. Masvidal dictated the first half of the round with his striking while Maia dominated the second half of the round with his grappling. Masvidal stayed composed on the ground with the jiu-jitsu specialist, but came up short on the judges’ scorecards.
“He’s one of the best jiu-jitsu fighters that I’ve ever faced in the UFC,” said Maia about Masvidal after the fight.
Following the split decision win, Maia sought out UFC president Dana White sitting cageside and asked for a title shot. White responded, “You got it.”
“I said to Dana, seven in a row, the Brazilian with the most wins in the UFC. I want to fight for the title. He said, ‘you got it.’ Thank you Dana,” said Maia.
The next time Maia steps inside the Octagon, he’ll be fighting champion Tyron Woodley for the 170-pound world title. “Finally,” said Maia. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve been working so hard for that.”