Heading into UFC Fight Night 62 on Saturday, Ryan LaFlare was undefeated with four of his eleven wins coming inside the UFC octagon. He faced the toughest test of his fighting career in No.7-ranked Demian Maia.
LaFlare thought he could hang with the submission specialist on the ground, but quickly discovered that Maia was on a different level.
Maia secured an early takedown in the opening round and quickly advanced his position to side control. LaFlare defended well from the bottom, but Maia dominated the round with top control.
Maia continually put LaFlare on his back and in bad positions. He had the 31-year-old New Yorker mounted several times. He nearly finished the fight in the third frame with an arm-triangle choke, but LaFlare defended the submission attempt and survived the round.
In the final round, Maia was exhausted. LaFlare stalked him, targeting Maia’s body with kicks and punches. He stuffed several takedown attempts from the Brazilian and let him get back to his feet.
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Maia milked the clock while getting up off the canvas and was warned twice by referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy about it. He was deducted a point in the closing seconds for being slow to get up off the ground when instructed to stand.
The point deduction didn’t come into play. All three judges’ scorecards had Maia winning by unanimous decision.
“I was out for three months without training. I had a serious infection, so I had a very tough camp. But I came in and fought a guy that was undefeated until now. He’s a very tough fighter,” said Maia following the win.
“I’d like to have another good fight (next), maybe a co-main event, or maybe a main event,” added Maia. “I’m just happy to come out here and fight in the birthplace of jiu-jitsu.”
LaFlare wasn’t happy with his performance, but viewed the defeat as a lesson that will ultimately make him a better fighter.
“Demian is extremely good on the ground,” said LaFlare after suffering his first career loss. “I couldn’t get it going. It took me until the fifth round. He already had four rounds on me and he was able to kind of sit back. Demian, I underestimated how strong he would be on top. He taught me a valuable lesson today.”