UFC Fight Night 129 could mark the beginning of one mixed martial arts icon’s farewell tour.
On Saturday, Demian Maia will square off with Kamaru Usman in the card’s main event at the Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. Maia agreed to take the welterweight bout on less than one month’s notice after Santiago Ponzinibbio withdrew from the contest due to a broken hand.
The Brazilian grappling ace and his manager, Eduardo Alonso, took advantage of the circumstances to negotiate a new four-fight deal with the promotion, which includes the showdown with Usman. When that contract ends, the 40-year-old Maia plans to hang up his four-ounce gloves.
“I want to fight this year, maybe next year, finish these fights on my contract,” Maia said on ”The MMA Hour” Monday. “You know I love to fight and I’m still performing well, doing training camps but I don’t know if I’m still fighting after next year. This could be my last contract with the UFC. Then after that, I’m retired.
“Yeah, I think so. Not because I don’t like or enjoy [fighting], almost 11 years in this game, UFC and it’s a lot of commitment, a lot of pressure. And also I want to have different projects that I like to do and I want to be a little bit more with family and kids and give more time for them also.”
Maia has compiled a 25-8 record over the course of a career that began in 2001. He challenged for the middleweight belt in 2010, losing a five-round verdict to Anderson Silva at a time when “The Spider” was regarded as one of the sport’s best pound-for-fighters. A seven-fight winning streak earned him a shot at welterweight gold at UFC 214, where he lost a unanimous decision to reigning champion Tyron Woodley. The Sao Paulo native has earned wins over the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Carlos Condit, Matt Brown, Gunnar Nelson, Neil Magny, Jon Fitch, Dong Hyun Kim and Chael Sonnen, to name a few.