Demian Maia might have been feeling the pressure of competing in his hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 41, as the submission wizard was forced to go the distance against Alexander Yakovlev.
The 36-year-old Maia had no trouble dominating for the majority of the 15 minutes, but he wasn’t able to ever finish off Yakovlev.
“I am happy to be fighting in my hometown, the place I grew up all my life,” he said. “I fought very hard to try to get the submission, but wasn’t able to do so.”
Maia (19-6) snapped a two-fight losing streak to Rory MacDonald and Jake Shields, earning his first victory since a 2013 bout vs. Jon Fitch. He is now 4-2 at the welterweight ranks after working his way up to a contender fight at middleweight.
While his niche will always be on the ground, Maia admitted he has been working hard to improve in the stand-up arena.
“I am very happy with my improving striking over the years,” he said. “I was able to knock him down because he was worried about my takedown. That opened up his guard.”
For Yakovlev, the loss dropped him to 21-5-1 overall. He had won three straight, including a decision over Paul Daley, to earn a spot in the UFC.