Rarely, if ever, would an average individual see hand-to-hand combat as being a transcendent experience let alone something they’d want to partake in on a regular basis. However, individual mindset is one of the clear differences between Mixed Martial Artists and those who admire their abilities from afar.

UFC middleweight Demian Maia is no exception to the rule and recently went into detail regarding his mental approach to fighting at as high a level as is required inside the Octagon.

“I really believe that martial arts and competing at a higher level is something spiritual,” the 14-3 Maia explained in a conversation with the UFC website. “You learn about yourself every day. It’s hard to explain in English. It’s not just fighting, it’s something much deeper. Every time I go to fight it’s a big challenge and this helps me to control myself and overcome my fears. It’s very special and brings you nearer to something spiritual. You become a better person.”

Maia will put the lessons he’s learned to the test this weekend against former SRC champion Jorge Santiago at UFC 136 in Houston, Texas. The submission wizard knows he’s in for a challenge, showing great respect for Santiago, but feels confident in how he matches up against his adversary no matter where things go and has even been refining his BJJ skills in preparation for the fight.

“He’s very complete,” said Maia of his fellow Brazilian who has a slew of submissions and TKOs to his credit. “Ever since my loss to Nate Marquardt I focused a lot on my standup. MMA is a complicated game because it’s hard to keep the balance (between martial arts). So at one point I trained a lot more standing and less jiu-jitsu and I lost a little rhythm on the ground. I’ve been trying to get my focus onto jiu-jitsu again.”

Maia and Santiago will join co-headlining champs Frank Edgar and Jose Aldo on Saturday night’s card with Edgar defending his lightweight belt against rival Gray Maynard and Aldo putting his gold up for grabs against Kenny Florian. Brian Stann and Chael Sonnen will also fight at the event.


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