At 41 years of age and with 36 professional bouts, Brazilian veteran Demain Maia knows that time is no longer on his side. The Sao Paolo native is widely regarded as one of the best exponents of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the sport, owning 21 UFC victories.

He has faced the who’s who of middleweights and welterweights. The list includes Chael Sonnen, Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman, Jon Fitch, Rory MacDonald, Carlos Condit and Jorge Masvidal.

While it is difficult for most athletes to admit that their careers are winding down Maia is realistic about the situation,

“I want to do a couple more fights. Maybe two or three more, and after that, that’s it for me. I think I’ve done enough in my career. That’s why I am relishing every opportunity that I get at this point.”

Grappling pedigree

As he begins to wind down his storied 18-year MMA stint, Maia is glad to have a chance to pit his highly-touted grappling pedigree against one of the best wrestlers. Someone who managed to translate their success on the mat into the cage.

Maia faces former Bellator and ONE Championship champion Ben Askren in the main event of UFC Singapore. The five-round welterweight showdown takes place on Saturday.

Maia sees it as the sort of challenge that appeals even after 21 UFC fights,

“This is a young man’s game, and of course, I’ve been thinking of retiring. I know it’s near. I can see it already, but the fighter in me wants more challenge. So to get this chance to come to Singapore and face a totally unique fighter in Ben, it’s a great challenge,” he stated.

Intriguing opponent

Maia is primarily a grappler and will always look to take the fight to the ground. That makes for an potentially intriguing encounter against one of the best wrestlers on the UFC roster,

“When the UFC offered it, I thought it was an interesting challenge. He’s a really good wrestler, and at this point in my career, I think it’s a cool fight. Practically, I spent my entire career fighting guys who avoided a ground fight with me,” he explained.

“It will be the first time I’ll fight someone with a similar style. That makes the fight interesting,” Maia added.

Though his notorious jiu-jitsu arsenal helped him to rack up 13 wins by submission, Maia encountered problems with wrestlers like Askren in the past. He failed failing to convert a single takedown in his matches against Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman.

Tall order

Knowing the fact that Askren is also an accomplished jiu-jitsu practitioner Maia admitted that he has a tall order in front of him,

“It’s a dangerous fight for me. We all know that wrestling is his main weapon. Not only that, he has a good submission game. He is very dangerous. That’s why it is a big challenge for me,” he claimed.

Despite the similarities in style, Maia believes that his mental edge will spell the difference in their welterweight clash. Particularly with Askren is coming off his first career loss at the hands of Masvidal last July.

“He doesn’t know what it’s like to lose (until) a few months ago he experienced it. Me, I’ve been there I know how it’s like, and I know how to address it.” ”

However Maia isn’t counting on Askren to be psychologically damaged by defeat. He knows it will be down to him to prove that even at the age of 41 he remains one of the world’s best welterweights,

“Let’s see in the fight how he will carry himself. But for me, I’ll just do my job to get the victory.”