UFC Singapore’s headliner between Ben Askren and Demian Maia either promises to be standup borefest or an exciting, technical grappling contest. Should it be the latter, Gilbert Burns is favoring his fellow Brazilian.
Of course, Maia had that run of three consecutive losses to wrestlers where he failed to land a single takedown. However, all three of those wrestlers (Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman) had considerably superior striking to Askren.
That and the fact that Askren is no slouch when it comes to jiu-jitsu either has made some believe that he would even try and challenge Maia on the ground by taking him down. But even still, Maia is a master on the ground and that’s why Burns thinks this matchup benefits him more.
“He has great control,” Burns told The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko of Askren. “Great ground and pound where he gets in good positions. But when you fight a grappler like Demian Maia, I think Demian Maia has the tools to beat Ben Askren. Even from the bottom, even if Ben Askren does take him down, I think Demian is going to create a scramble, eventually get the back or get a guillotine. In my opinion, Demian pulls off the finish.
“Demian is on his way out, he’s 40 something I think, and Ben Askren just got in the UFC. He’s coming from a knockout [loss]. I think he’s going to be a bit more hungry. [But] I think the matchup benefits Demian Maia with the submission. I just think Demian Maia is a master.
“One of the fights that I watched so much was Demian Maia and Gunnar Nelson. I watched the fight live but I [really] saw how high caliber is Gunnar Nelson because he got in a lot of bad positions and he survived. The only difference right now with Ben Askren is that it’s going to be five rounds. If you strike with Demian, if you make him miss a shot, if he doesn’t get on a grappling area, he might get tired in five rounds. But I think grappling? I don’t think he’s going to get that tired. I think he can do very well against Askren in a five-round fight.”
Speaking of Nelson, that is who Burns will face next as he continues his welterweight adventure. That fight will also be on short notice as they meet each other in the UFC Copenhagen co-main event that takes place next week.
Both fighters are extremely accomplished jiu-jitsu practitioners and despite Nelson losing two of his last three fights, Burns is preparing himself for a high-level fighter.
“I think he’s great,” Burns explained. “He’s got good takedowns. Good clinch, he closes the distance very good. Goes to a body lock that he works very well. He takes the back very good, he mounts very good. He’s a very dangerous fighter.
“I think he’s not on the rankings because he doesn’t talk too much. He’s a very respectful guy. For me, he’s an amazing grappler, high-level grappler, and a great fighter. A big challenge for me and for sure, I’m looking for the win, the finish. But I know I’m facing a guy that is high caliber, a very high-level fighter.”
You can see the full interview below: