I get that there have been some huge headlines this past week — apparently there was shoving match — but forget those; learn to ignore those. Dig deeper into the card and you will actually see that it is still pretty stacked. There are plenty of fights off of the main card that will deliver, but I have no idea why the media is ignoring Demian Maia vs. Rory MacDonald. If you take one look at this fight on paper, we are in for a treat.
Both MacDonald and Maia are coming off loses that snapped a serious win streak. Both lost to people that they were supposed to destroy, and both are looking at getting a big win come Saturday night. The only problem is that their strengths and weaknesses are switched. Where one excels, the other falters. Maia should have a lock on the ground; we have not seen MacDonald on his back too much, but it is very safe to assume that he is nowhere near Maia skills. Look for Maia to try and smother MacDonald from Round 1 and cruise to a decision.
MacDonald holds the advantage in the striking department and should look to stay on the outside and pick Maia apart. The reason that this fight is so great is because Maia will be trying to get inside, while MacDonald wants to stay on the outside. Conflicting forces! It has all the makings for a classic striker vs. grappler match, and there has rarely been a bigger difference in skill. Maia has some seriously weak standup; no offense there, Maia, but it is lacking considering you are fighting a guy who out-boxed BJ Penn. If Maia is able to take this to the ground, pay close attention to how MacDonald defends, because this will probably be the first time we see him do such a thing. I personally think that MacDonald would be nuts to try and wrestle Maia, but the kid may have something to prove, which makes him dangerous.
The question mark of MacDonald’s wrestling is what is going to make this fight exciting. He could get extremely cocky against Maia and try to take him down and get caught. It has happened before and it will happen again. Maia is the one who needs to make this his fight the second it starts. On the other hand, MacDonald will try to establish his jab in the first round. Whoever can get off first will have a much easier night.