Nick Maximov (4-0 MMA) is not letting COVID-19 slow his grind. Like many fighters, the 22-year-old has continued training in modified ways, but unlike most combat athletes, Maximov will actually be competing this weekend.
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Chael Sonnen’s Submission Underground (SUG) 13 is currently set to go down this Sunday, April 26, from an undisclosed location on the West Coast. As a precaution to assure the grappling contest is not shut down or that fans won’t show up causing a scene, none of the fighters or coaches will know the location of the event until Friday or Saturday.
The unorthodox circumstances of the show are a non-issue to the Nick Diaz Academy standout. Being mentored by the iconic Stockton residents means he’s used to doing things a little differently.
“They [Nick and Nate Diaz] don’t really have a training time, they just go whenever they want,” Maximov told The Body Lock.
“Class starts at like seven, and we train until nine or ten and then people can leave, but there’re nights we go until one or two in the morning. We just go until the last man is standing. And then we go to the 24 Hour Fitness and hit the steam room or lift weights until five or six in the morning. We just don’t really ever quit.”
This isn’t surprising for anyone who has seen the Diaz brothers fight. The duo is known for their everlasting cardio and high-output come fight night. For Maximov, this diligence is an extension of what he’s always known as a former Clackamas junior college wrestler.
While he doesn’t have the full support of a team that a fighter usually does before an event, the BJJ brown belt is still texting people to set up impromptu training sessions. Although it’s not the same as having a full fight camp, Maximov isn’t unnerved in the least.
“This is all I do. It’s not like I lose it. I’ve been doing it so long, that I have the muscle memory. In a split second, I know what to do. It’s not the same as training every day, I’d be lying if I said it was. But it’s still there. It’s always there.”
Submission Underground 13
Aside from not telling the athletes where the contest will be held, SUG is taking extra health precautions for this weekend’s event. There will be no crowd and no coaches allowed cageside. Chael Sonnen will be in a separate room remotely calling the bouts. The venue will house the fighters (who will be spread out ahead of their matches), a single cameraman, and a referee.
Of course, in the era of social distancing, plenty of detractors have railed against the combat sports world continuing or attempting to move forward. When asked what he thinks about people who say grappling should take the side of other major sports who have suspended their seasons, Maximov was to the point.
“They can go mind their business,” Maximov chuckles.
“I know a lot of people are hating on it but it’s not like we’re getting a big crowd together. I mean, if you got a problem with it, keep it to yourself. There’s no point in getting mad at me, they got other shit they can go do; I don’t. This is all I do. So I’m not going to give those people the time of day.”
His opponent this Sunday is Joe Baize. Baize is 13 years Maximov’s elder, a black belt in BJJ, and a more experienced grappler on paper. Baize is good at what he does and Maximov has no problem acknowledging that.
“If I just went against people I knew I could beat, that’d be no fun. I want a test. Especially when they’re a specialist at something like leg locks. I’m like, ‘oh hell yeah.’ This is a test. I’m going to go into his game and see what he’s got. I’m taking it serious, but at the same time, this is jiu-jitsu. This is fun.”
Fighting in Japan
Undefeated as an amateur and professional in mixed martial arts, Maximov plans to bounce between 205-pounds and 185-pounds depending on the importance of the fight ahead of him. He mentions fighters like Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith who have had success at both weights as inspiration. The Californian also sees the UFC’s light heavyweight division opening up for young guys like himself. The Jon Jones we watch today isn’t the same as he was six or seven years ago and there are not many guys at that weight that Maximov feels can hang with his grappling pedigree.
Of course, those are future plans. Maximov is still working his way up to “the big show.” He was contacted to compete at Bellator in San Jose but had multiple opponents decline to sign the contract. As much as he’d like to jump into the UFC soon, we could see Maximov testing his mettle in Japan before that.
“I’d love to go fight in Japan. That’d be badass. I don’t know why more people don’t do that. You can get a big name out there and bring it back over with you. There’s a lot of money over there, and they love fighting in Japan. I think that could be the perfect segue into the UFC,” said Maximov.
When asked about the soccer kicks to the head of a downed that are still legal in most Japanese MMA, Maximov’s voice perked up.
“That [soccer kicks] would be hella cool. Imagine that? I wish PRIDE was still around because I’d want to do that over anything. But yeah, the soccer kicks would be cool. RIZIN, ONE Championship, either of those places would be cool.”
Nick Maximov is also not completely sold on this idea that UFC is the end all be all.
“This type of sport is a marathon. If you’re the best at everything, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s about getting paid. It’s not about all this little clout people are chasing. I’d rather be getting money and fighting everybody at the same time than just being on UFC contact. There you have to fight when they want you to and but I want to fight back-to-back weeks and not have anyone tell me I can’t.”
“There’s too many people just wait around and fight when the boss says, but if I’m ready to go, I want to go.”
Brandon is a long-time fan of combat sports who has covered them for various outlets since 2017.