UFC Picks: Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia UFC 170

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, February 6, 2014 8:26 PM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 8:26 PM GMT

A pair of top welterweights collide when young Rory MacDonald and veteran Demian Maia both look to rebound after narrow split decision losses.  But which fighter will offer us the best value value in our UFC picks?

Rory MacDonald (18-5, 3 KO's, 9 Subs)

Rory MacDonald was catapulting up the welterweight ranks until his momentum came to a crashing halt when he lost a split decision to Robbie Lawler at UFC 167. Most offshore books had MacDonald installed as a prohibitive 4-to-1 favorite but it was veteran Robbie Lawler who cashed for all those who decided to give the underdog a chance. MacDonald must now contemplate how his five-fight win streak got snapped and what he needs to do to beat the old school bad boys in the UFC.

MacDonald perhaps took too many chances against Lawler after getting criticized for a rather lackadaisical performance in his victory over Jake Ellenberger. The boo birds were raining down as mat masters MacDonald and Ellenberger played a tactical game of cat and mouse that was uninspiring at best and reputation busting at worst. Though MacDonald exhibited a much more crowd pleasing performance against Lawler he continually threw kicks in that fight as a means to cause distance as opposed to cause harm. That strategy ultimately cost him.

The Canadian Psycho enjoys a sizeable reach advantage against most of his opponents in the 170 pound division but he will need to score with those punches rather than use them as a means to set up takedowns. MacDonald will have his hands full on the mat with BJJ ace Demian Maia.

Demian Maia (18-5, 3 KO's, 9 Subs)

There are few more highly decorated and accomplished BJJ artists in the world than Demian Maia. He is lethal on the mat and anyone who goes willingly to the ground with this man is inviting a world of pain. He truly is that good and since he dropped down from the middleweight division he had been a perfect 3-0 until he met one of the premier wrestlers on the planet in Jake Shields. 

The former Strikeforce Middleweight king has also made the drop down to the welterweight division and the fight was reminiscent of the snake and the mongoose. In the end it was a surgical battle of contrasting styles exemplified by the most skilled practitioners in the game today. Shields won a narrow split decision over Maia but there is no shame in losing to someone of Shields' ilk. He is one of the best in the world and Maia proved once again that he is as well.

Free UFC Pick:

Though MacDonald's youth and reach instinctually make me side with the gifted up-and-comer in our UFC picks, I have to rethink that approach particularly when I reflect upon his uber talented opponent Demian Maia. Just consider for a moment that three of Maia's five defeats have come at the hands of the best in the world in their respective divisions. Jake Shields is a beast and will no doubt be a prime consideration for the winner of the vacant welterweight title match between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler. Two of his other losses came at the hands of UFC Middleweight king Chris Weidman (unanimous decision) and living legend Anderson Silva (unanimous decision). 

I'm not sure Rory MacDonald is in that rarified air. At 24 years old MacDonald will only get better but I don't think he's got the chops to handle the sublime mat skills of Demian Maia. As good as MacDonald is, I am surprised he is north of a 2-to-1 favorite in UFC odds. I'm not sure you will be able to get Maia at this price on fight night but if you bet it early at WilliamHill.com they will give you a pretty penny for a bet on Demian Maia.

Play Maia +210 at WilliamHill.com.

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