🇺🇸Demian Maia, a 39-year-old Jiu-Jitsu black belt, he is a fighter with a mission. The UFC title is a dream, but it is not the most important goal of his life. In this interview to GracieMag-Oct2017, he explains how he does to not let defeat shake his spirits, and gives valuable lessons for you to keep training and pursue your own dreams.
GM: How have you been dealing with your loss to Tyron Woodley in your last fight at the middleweight belt?
DM: I think I'm dealing well. I know I did my best. I know we have done everything we could to be well prepared and that takes away a little bit the pain of defeat. My team and I have dedicated ourselves 110% to this belt race, and I think we have managed to reach an excellent level, in a very short time to prepare for it.
GM: What technical and tactical lessons did you learn from the fight with Woodley?
DM: I think we didn’t have enough time to prepare and make technical adjustments. From the last eight fights, this was the first time I could not spend time training wrestling at Edge, a gym where I am always doing part of my training camp in New Jersey. Coincidentally, out of these eight fights, this was the only one I lost. Now I'm working on some variations that could have worked in that fight.
GM: A key element of Jiu-Jitsu in MMA is the clinch, one aspect that Woodley seemed to defend well in the fight.
DM: Yes, he came with a very sharp defense. Since I got down to the middle weight I didn’t have a problem to take my opponents down. But he managed to avoid that very well.
GM: An old saying in the world of Jiu-Jitsu says that the opportunity is like a race horse that passes, and it is up to the champions to ride on time. Do you think the horse will pass even a third time? Do you still dream about this belt?
DM: I hope so, but I do not fight just for it. I fight to promote Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. My mission is to encourage people of all ages and life goals to start training in the Gi. So more people have access to the immense benefits that our martial art provides.
GM: How did your students and friends from the Jiu-Jitsu community help you lift your spirits, and start the training for your next event in the UFC SP?
DM: Defeat is always sad, but I usually overcome fast. Like I said, my mission is bigger than being a champion. So I'm always excited. Besides, I work with what I like and I have a wonderful team.
GM: How do you see this your way back to the top?
DM: I'm still at the top, I'm number three in the world and I think only a few fighters in my weight have a game to beat me. I'll keep fighting until the title possibility comes up again.
GM: Many of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners have certainly doubted their abilities one day, and when one begins to doubt they tend to give up. What would you say to them?
DM: A defeat always brings doubts. But after ten years at the biggest fight event in the world, I finally learned to understand a phrase from a volleyball champion, Bernardinho: "When you lose, never believe that you are bad as people say. And when you win, never believe that you are good as people say." I think this is the secret. Today I know my qualities, and the efficiency of Jiu-Jitsu. But I also know that I have to keep evolving.