Welterweight contender Kamaru Usman picked up the biggest win of his career on Saturday but might have failed to make a statement in doing so.
Usman (13-1) defeated two-time title challenger Demian Maia (25-9) via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night in Santiago, Chile. All three judges scored the bout, which headlined the card, for Usman via dominant scores: 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.
Maia is the biggest name on Usman's résumé, but the five-round bout was difficult to watch due to lack of big moments. Usman dominated in strikes landed -- 130 to 30, according to Fightmetric -- but the offense was uneven. He knocked Maia down with a right hand in the fourth round but never had him in trouble otherwise.
"That's a legend of the game," said Usman, who said he injured both his hands during the bout. "It was an honor to come in and compete with him.
"This is just to let everyone know, for the longest time, 'Oh, I haven't fought a top-10 guy' -- that's a legend in the game, two-time title challenger I just dominated from start to finish."
Maia, 40, landed several good left hands in the opening round and threatened to take Usman's back in a scramble but seemed to gas as early as the second round. The Brazilian did accept this bout on short notice, as Usman's original opponent, Santiago Ponzinibbio, was forced out with injury.
The left hand continued to be Maia's best -- and only -- weapon on the feet. He did not mix in many strikes or combinations, and his takedowns grew tired and ineffective as the fight went on. In the fourth and fifth rounds, he pleaded with Usman to come into his guard.
Usman improves to 8-0 in the UFC. Maia, who has stated that he will likely retire at the end of his current UFC contract, has dropped three in a row.
Suarez makes quick work of Grasso
Suarez, of Los Angeles, looks like the real deal at 115 pounds, as she is now 3-0 in the UFC. She also won The Ultimate Fighter reality series in 2016.
She was as dominant as ever on Saturday, taking Grasso down with her first attempt and quickly moving to the back. Grasso, 24, had no answer for Suarez's dominant grappling. She landed a few desperate punches in the final seconds of the bout -- perhaps a moral victory before tapping to the choke.
"It just went by so fast," Suarez said. "I had a long, long camp. I've known about this fight for 10 weeks, it's finally here, and it was over so quick. I've said time and time again, I'm not here to race to the top, but I feel I deserve a top opponent to prove myself and climb the rankings."
Grasso, of Guadalajara, Mexico, drops to 2-2 in the UFC.