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\Demian Maia's striking defense a problem for Carlos Condit

Demian Maia's defense could be his best offense against Carlos Condit. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The UFC returns Saturday with a main event featuring a pair of welterweight contenders. Carlos Condit is back in action for the first time since falling to then-champion Robbie Lawler via a close decision in January, and Demian Maia is riding a five-fight winning streak that dates back to 2014. Their stylistic differences, highlighted in the following statistical categories, should make for an interesting and exciting bout.

Striking Defense

Maia's ability to avoid strikes is one of his biggest strengths as a fighter. During his last three fights, he has allowed his opponents to land only 12 significant strikes combined for a rate of 0.32 significant strikes absorbed per minute. Maia's advanced grappling game forces opponents to play defense and prevents them from landing damaging blows. For his UFC career, Maia allows opponents to land only 1.62 significant strikes per minute, which is the best rate among ranked welterweights. If he is able to implement his smothering grappling game, Condit will struggle to land strikes.

Striking Differential

While Maia excels at preventing opponents from landing significant strikes, he also struggles to land meaningful strikes himself. In his last three fights, Maia has landed 340 total strikes, but only 23 percent were significant. For his UFC career, he lands only 0.21 significant strikes per minute more than he absorbs.

Condit, on the other hand, is much better from a striking differential perspective. While his defense is not as strong, with opponents landing 2.44 significant strikes per minute against him, he lands at a much higher rate than Maia. The result is a +1.36 significant strike per minute differential. If Condit can avoid bad positions, he should have the advantage in terms of striking.

Submissions

Maia's eight submission victories in the UFC are good for third-best all time, behind only Nate Diaz and Royce Gracie. He averages 1.23 submission attempts per 15 minutes, which is second among ranked welterweights.

Early in his career, Condit was also quite the submission threat. During his WEC run, he finished four of his five fights via submission. However, since coming over to the UFC in 2009, he has attempted nine submissions without success. Condit has not lost via submission since falling to Pat Healy in 2006, but the grappling phase of the fight probably favors Maia.

Takedowns

To avoid Maia's grappling game, Condit will need to rely on his takedown defense. Unfortunately, this has never been a strong part of his game. During his UFC/WEC career, he has managed to stop only 39 percent of his opponent's takedown attempts. During that 17-fight run, he has avoided being taken down in only three fights, and none of his opponents in those three bouts attempted a takedown.

Maia has always been a respectable takedown artist. However, his numbers have greatly improved since his move to welterweight in 2012. As a middleweight, Maia landed 2.62 takedowns per 15 minutes. Since dropping down to 170 pounds, that number has improved by nearly 27 percent, to 3.32. Maia will certainly try to take this fight to the ground, and Condit might struggle to stop him.