Demian Maia vs Nate Marquardt, UFC 102 Betting Odds and Analysis

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Demian Maia vs Nate Marquardt, UFC 102 Betting Odds and Analysis

Demian Maia (+135, 5Dimes) vs Nate Marquardt (-140, Sportsbook) 

Here is a story of an up and coming fighter looking for his title shot and a longtime veteran that lost his shot and is now looking for a second chance at the belt.  The winner of this fight will most likely be the next top contender for the middleweight title after Dan Henderson.  Whether Anderson Silva will still be holding the belt or even in the 185lbs division is a whole different story.

Let’s start with Nate Marquardt.  Marquardt made his name over in Pancrase from 2000 to 2005.  In fact, he was a 7 time middleweight Pancrase champion until his move to the UFC and subsequent vacating on the belt.  He has notable wins over Shonie Carter, Kazuo Misaki, Ivan Salaverry, Dean Lister, Jeremy Horn, and Martin Kampmann.  He holds a BJJ black belt under Ricardo Murgel and trains out of Greg Jackson’s camp.  His most notable losses have been to Thales Leites, Anderson Silva, and Ricardo Almeida.

Since coming to the UFC, Nate has gone 7-2 with his only losses coming to the god of the middleweight division Anderson Silva, and a very controversial decision to Thales Leites that saw him lose 2 points due to fouls.  After his fight with Silva, Nate has really sharpened his skills, started looking for the finish, and added a good amount of muscle mass to his frame.

Nate is an extremely well-rounded fighter that has submission victories in 15 of his 28 wins (53%).  Recently, he has stopped his last two fights via TKO and has very dangerous GnP.  Standing up, Nate has been caught with hard strikes, the most memorable being Thales Leites.  It didn’t put him out, but it was still a heavy shot that he took full force.  However, he has been working on his KO power and working with Greg Jackson’s camp, his standup has been improving with every fight.  For the most part, Nates strategy is duck in with a good mix of head and body shots and then quickly back out.  When he does land a hard shot, he increases his aggression level and rushes in for the kill.

From the clinch, Marquardt has exceptionally hard upper cuts as he uses the Thia plum clinch to get good distance and cock back with full force.  Since he is very strong for 185, this sort of dirty boxing is well suited for his body type.  He also has good knees, although he has to be careful of his timing during scrambles, as evident of his premature knee to the head of Thales Leites.  It he would have held off for a half second that fight would have been over from the strike instead causing a point deduction.

Wrestling wise, he has great takedowns from the clinch and even better takedown defense.  It is very similar to GSP’s smothering takedowns while pressed up against the cage.  If Maia is going to get Nate down, it will be through a trip, which Marquardt has shown a good deal of skill in avoiding in the past.  Anyone who trains with GSP and Rashad Evans on regular basis is going to develop a phenomenal takedown defense.

On the ground, Nate is well versed in submissions.  However, he tends to use his grappling skills more heavily in maintaining position and delivering GnP than going for the submission.  Once he is on top, he has a smoothing GnP style that includes hard punches when posturing up and heavy elbows while in close.  From his back or being mounted, Nate is very adept at working switches and escapes.  Even Thales Leites couldn’t stay mounted in the first round of their fight.

If Nate Marquardt is the epitome of a well rounded fighter, Demian Maia is anything but.  Since coming to the UFC, he has used his high level Jiu Jitsu to go 5-0.  Every single fight has ended with a submission win with 3 being in the first round.

Standing wise, Demian is less than stellar.  He does train a lot with his good friend Wanderlei Silva.  However, his style is less fluid and artful and more geared toward headhunting power shots.  These shots are typically utilized to close the distance and work toward the takedown.  Since no one has been able to stand up with him for a decent length of time, his chin and stamina are debatable.

Demian’s takedowns are usually executed in the clinch in the form of trips.  He doesn’t have that explosive freestyle wrestling, but he was able to get Chael Sonnen down, who is a very good wrestler.  If he is unable to get the takedown, in typical Gracie fashion, Demian is comfortable making the jump to guard.  So far, he has seen great success in getting to the floor and latching on to a limb to drag his opponents down.

Once in the guard, Mia’s ground game is head and shoulders above most middleweights.  He has a chess master like mindset that sees a lot of setups and crafty manipulation of opponents.  This typically leads to quick submissions as he directs his opponent’s actions toward favorable sub positions.

Since his standup is so rudimentary, Nate has a good chance of winning this fight on the feet.  In fact, he should have a significant edge while standing.  Maia will most likely try to clinch early to get the fight to the ground, but that may be difficult to accomplish with Marquardt’s takedown defense.  If he jumps guard, he could be in a world of hurt as Nate powers out of submission attempts and punishes him with his GnP.  There is always the possibility of a sweep or Nate falling into a submission, but it isn’t enough to give Maia a huge edge in the betting lines.

This fight will really be the first time that Maia hasn’t had a huge advantage in the ground game.  He will still have an edge, but Nate’s GnP, strength, and grappling awareness will most likely keep him safe and up on the score cards as he inflicts damage.  If Maia can’t end the fight in the first round, he could be in a lot of trouble as Nate increases his aggression level as the fight goes on.  Plus, the blood and sweat that starts accumulating will make getting the submission harder and harder.  Damian’s fight with MacDonald really showed that he can be neutralized on the ground by a respectable BJJ practitioner.  When Nate’s smothering GnP is added to the mix, it could be a long night for Maia.

Final Prediction:  The current lines are fairly accurate.  The less risk averse could probably put a .5 unit bet at -140 down on Nate Marquardt for a .71 unit payoff.  However, if the lines move upward, as the smart money should come in on Nate, go ahead and leave this fight alone.

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