It did not take the UFC long to find someone willing to step up and fight Anderson Silva for the middleweight title at UFC 112. The guy: Demian Maia. Maia is on the heels of a big victory over Dan Miller at UFC 109 where he showed much improved striking skills. Maia, a jiu jitsu specialist is most known for his very slick ground game.
The UFC made the announcement yesterday evening. Here is what UFC president Dana White had to say:
It’s always tough when a top fighter like Vitor Belfort has to pull out of a big title fight, but we have found a high quality replacement. Top contender Chael Sonnen was not available due to injuries sustained in his fight with Nate Marquardt, so top six middleweight Demian Maia will step in to fight for the title. Maia is an Abu Dhabi grappling champion, a five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, and he is 12-1 in MMA and coming off a win over Dan Miller at UFC 109. Anderson Silva vs Demian Maia will be a matchup between MMA’s best striker and MMA’s best grappler.
I believe White sold the fight best when he stated that this fight would be a match-up between “MMA’s best striker and MMA’s best grappler.” It would be hard to disagree with that assessment. Maia is 6-1 in the UFC with 5 of his wins coming by way of submission, including an impressive win over contender Chael Sonnen. The other victories include Nate Quarry, Jason MacDonald and Ed Herman. Most people think that if Anderson Silva is going to be beat it will be on the ground. Mai may be the best candidate for the job as Silva has never faced a guy with Maia’s submission pedigree.
Demian Maia was issued a medical suspension until August due to a laceration of his eyelid, however he is able to be cleared earlier. Also, the fight April 10th will not be overseen by an athletic commission as it will take place in Abu Dahbi. We will see if Maia’s return to Abu Dahbi is victorious.
One question many may have as the training camp resumes is what role Wanderlei Silva will play in training Maia. The two are good friends and training partners. Meanwhile, Wanderlei and Anderson are former training partners who just recently made nice and spoke of training together.
Well, bad news for Belfort turned into good news for Maia. After his loss to Marquardt last August Maia had to feel he took a step backwards in his track to the title. However, an injury to Belfort and the inability o Sonnen to fight made Maia the obvious choice.