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Kim vs Maia: Unfinished Business

Dong Hyun Kim
(Andre Penner, Associated Press)

Forty seven seconds. That was all it took when the “Stun Gun,” Dong Hyun Kim was stunned by Demian Maia in UFC 148 way back in July 2012.

Kim hadn’t forgotten about the fight it seems. After his first round TKO victory over late replacement, Dominic Waters, Kim took a jab at Maia during the UFC Fight Night 79 post-fight presser, calling him the “easiest to beat in the UFC’s top 10.” Whether Kim is angling for a rematch to avenge the loss or simply wants to volt up the contender list in a matchup he feels supremely confident he’ll win.

The Stun Gun was 6-1 with one no contest including wins over current top-10 fighter Matt Brown and former lightweight title challenger Nate Diaz. His only defeat came at the fists and flying knee of one Carlos Condit, the former Interim UFC Welterweight Champion. But he rebounded with a sound victory Sean Pierson.

Maia on the other hand was moving down to welterweight for the first time in his UFC career. He had just lost to current middleweight champion, Chris Weidman. Moving down to welterweight, Maia looked to be evenly matched with Kim. Both are grapplers but with different backgrounds.

Maia is a multiple-time grappling champion and has a submission win over Chael Sonnen. Kim is a 4th Dan Black Belt in Judo and prefers to lay heavy ground and pound from top position. Kim and Maia both opened at similar odds in Vegas and the fight lasting to a decision was almost a 2-1 favorite.

The Brazilian would assert himself first during the fight as he applied heavy pressure and quickly attempted to take Kim down. While defending the takedown, Kim let out a pained cry then fell to the canvas clutching his rib area. The ref would immediately stop the fight as Kim writhed helplessly in pain. Kim suffered a severe muscle spasm and was taken to the hospital. A fight ending in an injury that early almost feels like a no contest but it’s officially a loss.

Since the fight, Kim would 6-1 showing some marked changed to his demeanour as a fighter. Kim still demonstrated his ability to apply his judo and be top-heavy in suffocating his opponents to clear-cut judges’ decisions but has now juiced up his Stun Gun moniker with back-to-back eye-popping knockouts of Erick Silva and John Hathaway.

Kim would be the co-main event headliner opposite Silva in the same card Maia would fight and lose to Jake Shields in an airtight affair. While Silva pushed Kim back with his arsenal of strikes, Kim would knock him out cold in a wild exchange that saw both men throw simultaneously. For an encore, Kim destroyed Hathaway with a spinning back elbow that was a Knockout of the Year contender. Kim’s newfound success in the striking led to his loss against Tyron Woodley however as he got too aggressive in throwing a spinning elbow as Woodley countered him and put him away quickly. The loss didn’t deter Kim as he submitted Josh Burkman and is most recently coming off a win over Waters as mentioned.

Maia, after beating Kim, became the first and only fighter to stop Rick Story with a nasty neck crank. Maia cranked Story’s neck to the point his nose began to bleed. He then outgrappled longtime top-10 fighter Jon Fitch for all three rounds. Against Shields, however, Maia was unable to mount much offense and saw himself countered by the super crafty Cesar Gracie student, leading to a split decision loss.

He didn’t get a step down in competition. In fact, he was given Rory MacDonald, also coming off a close decision loss.

Against MacDonald, Maia managed to win the first round and put the future title contender in deep trouble by mounting him. Maia faded down the stretch, however, as MacDonald took over and won the last two rounds. Maia defeated Alexander Yakovlev in a relatively short turnaround then owned two impressive wins over rising contenders Ryan LaFlare and Neil Magny. Maia halted Magny’s seven-fight winning streak and earned a post-fight bonus for the finish.

With both fighters now coming off of impressive wins and having a streak, their rematch could be on the horizon. However, Maia is scheduled to fight Gunnar Nelson on UFC 194 and should he win, Maia could be on to a bigger fight – potentially a No. 1 contender’s fight — while Kim is still lacking a win over a top-10 opponent. But if Maia loses, the rematch makes a lot of sense.

It’s been three years since Kim and Maia faced each other and most fans probably don’t even remember it. However, the two are flying under everyone’s radars despite being two of the division’s best grapplers. But given another chance at each other and with Kim calling out Maia, a little bad blood between them can go a long way in getting them both more attention.

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