Chael Sonnen’s Submission Underground 13 (SUG) takes place this Sunday, at an undisclosed location in the United States. By keeping the location confidential from both fans and fighters, Sonnen hopes the event will go ahead and provide some entertainment during these dark and daunting times.
As we know, many fighters are hesitant to compete due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted the postponement of numerous UFC events as well as other major sporting leagues. One man making the most of this unpredictable time is California’s Nick Maximov (4-0), an undefeated mixed martial arts competitor who performs at this weekend’s Submission Underground event.
“With everything going on, I’ve really had to adjust my training regime and make best with what I have,” Maximov told The Scrap, “It is a difficult time, and it is hurting everyone, but being a fighter and figuring out how to deal with it is a part of life. When I train, it is usually 2-3 people if that, I can’t get more than 3-4 people at a time which can be difficult.”
Maximov, along with near-enough every other athlete, has had to make major adjustments to his training regiment in order to continue his evolution as a fighter. Despite normality being snatched away from him, the 22-year-old believes MMA promotions should continue to host events under the same format as SUG, where promoters make the location known only a day or two prior to fight night.
“I love it,” said Maximov, when asked about not knowing the whereabouts of his upcoming jiu-jitsu match.
“I think that is best because people would try to protest the event and try to not make it happen. I wish more events would do this, especially MMA events. All eyes will be on SUG this Sunday, and if everyone took that approach for their events, they’ll be an overnight success.”
JiU-Jitsu for fun
Jiu-jitsu promotions such as Submission Underground and Combat jiu-jitsu offer combat sports practitioners, from your average UFC fighter to battle-tested BJJ grappler, the opportunity to grapple on a major stage while making a good few bucks. Notable athletes such as former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields have made the switch to competing in jiu-jitsu, where he can be found going toe-to-toe with dangerous leg-lock expert Craig Jones and black belt AJ Agazarm.
As for Nick Maximov, he still actively competes in MMA, and last stepped into the cage in January, where he picked up a first-round rear-naked choke win. Since being a professional he has picked up two submission victories and believes that regularly competing in jiu-jitsu will have nothing but a positive effect on his ground game. His last grappling contest was in 2019, where he tapped Bryan Brown via a triangle choke at Combat Jiu-Jitsu Fight Night.
Combat jiu-jitsu is best described as a spin-off from regular BJJ, with its composer, Eddie Bravo, introducing his creation to the world in late 2017. Picture ordinary jiu-jitsu with one added thing to the rulebook: slapping. Fighters are allowed to slap their opponent with the palm of their hand, which sounds like an odd concept initially. Albeit, it has the potential to cause mass amounts of mayhem. It changes entire gameplans as hard, and often accurate slaps are legally allowed to meet your flesh until the final buzzer.
“It will make or break someone’s game,” stated Maximov when questioned about the inclusion of slaps, “People panic knowing there are slaps or the idea of getting hit. Getting hit will make a black belt turn into a white belt real quick. You see it all the time.”
As for SUG, slaps are not apart of the ruleset and at this weekends event, titled Submission Underground 13, the California native battles experienced black belt Joe Baize, who has grappled some of the best the sport has to offer; at SUG 3, he lost to the best no-gi jiu-jitsu grappler on earth, Gordon Ryan. Baize also has an extensive understanding of leg locks, favoring the straight ankle lock.
His experience, durability, and wealth of knowledge will be a difficult task for the young Maximov, however, a challenge is what he loves best, and a victory over an opponent as game as Baize will undoubtedly elevate his status in the jiu-jitsu community.
“He is a black belt under a good team, he is a great leg locker, and is a very well rounded, game competitor. He has gone against some of the best in the sport and I am very excited to see how I do against him,” Maximov exclaimed, clearly excited for his April 27 matchup.
Despite having his sights set on Joe Baize, one former jiu-jitsu player on the outskirts of his radar is Dillon Danis, known for his close relationship to Conor McGregor and verbal assaults towards fellow fighters on Twitter.
To say it lightly, Maximov isn’t too fond of Danis and his antics:
“I don’t respect him. He went against his own grain, for clout. I don’t respect that. He turned his back on his people to make a Lil name for himself. I don’t respect that. He isn’t real and he puts on a fake image. He would either get tapped out or knocked out [by me]. He doesn’t put himself on the line anymore, he has an excuse for everything.”
“I want to fight in the UFC ASAP, but if that is not the case I want to go overseas and fight in Japan, China, or anything like that. I think that would be amazing for my career. What better way to get your name known than to go overseas?”
Many MMA athletes believe that the UFC, due to it being the largest organization in the sport, is the be-all and end-all. Essentially, if you don’t fight for the UFC, you’ve failed – this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The end goal for almost every young up-and-coming prospect is to touch UFC gold and establish themselves as the best to ever do it. However, being fixated on the promotion can actually cause more harm than good, and lead to fighters thinking that Bellator or the PFL isn’t a “good enough” destination; the fact that 22-year-old Nick Maximov is already aware of this is a testament to his maturity and the wide array of combat sports veterans he trains with, who educate him on the fight game.
“I saw Nate and Nick [Diaz] did that when they were younger and expanded their brand like that. I don’t know why people don’t do that. Going overseas and fighting in front of thousands of people from a different country, having them scream your name? That sounds pretty amazing to me. Building a fanbase out of the States will boost your stock.”
You might be wondering why he mentioned the Diaz brothers, the most notoriously known and highly respected duo in MMA today. Maximov currently trains out of the Nick Diaz Academy, in Stockton, California, in an eager pursuit to perfect his craft. A few years ago he made the choice to relocate to the gym, as a means of learning from two of the sport’s most popular fighters.
“They’ve taught me their way of living and I will forever be grateful for it. Their ideas, philosophy, everything has made a huge impact in my life.”
Having the Diaz brothers in your court is one hell of a way to learn the ins and outs of the sport, and just like Nate’s older brother, Maximov enjoys being apart of more than one weight division.
“I think I’ll continue to do it for as long as I can. I am a big ’85er and not a bad sized 205er, so until I find that sweet spot, I’ll continue to keep on switching.”
The UFC is in need of new blood to swarm the very shallow light heavyweight division, and Nick Maximov is a perfect fit.
It’s evident that the UFC occupies the top spot on his wishlist, and rightfully so. As the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion, it’s no secret why many dream of turning the Octagon into their stomping ground.
“It is all about an opportunity. Just one shot and I know I could shock the world,” he said when asked about fighting in the Octagon, “because that is where the best fighters are, and I wanna prove I’m the best.”