Kamaru Usman followed the blueprint for beating Demian Maia, much like Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington before him.
“The Ultimate Fighter 21” winner shut off Maia’s takedowns, forced the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to engage him on the feet and picked him apart with punches, as he moved one step closer to title contention in the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division with a unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Night 129 headliner on Saturday at the Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. All three cageside judges struck scorecards in Usman’s favor: 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.
Maia misfired on all 15 of his takedown attempts, according to preliminary FightMetric data. It continues a troubling trend for the decorated grappler. During his current three-fight losing streak, Maia has gone 0-for-49 on takedowns against Woodley, Covington and Usman, depleting his gas tank and leaving him as little more than a sitting duck. Usman capitalized, as he outperformed the Brazilian in terms of significant strikes landed (66-27) and total strikes landed (97-33).
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Maia vs. Usman,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Kamaru Usman vs. Stephen Thompson-Darren Till winner: No one can rationally deny Usman as a legitimate threat to the welterweight throne. The Hard Knocks 365 representative has rattled off 12 straight wins, pairing six finishes with six unanimous decisions in an extended run of dominance. Defeating a two-time title contender like Maia, even at 40, affords Usman much-needed leverage at 170 pounds and pushes his stellar UFC record to 8-0. Thompson and Till will tangle in the UFC Fight Night 130 main event on May 27 in Liverpool, England.