The UFC has officially confirmed that Demian Maia will step in on less than eight weeks notice to challenge middleweight king Anderson Silva for his crown at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.
“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,” UFC President Dana White said of Maia.
Silva was originally slated to face top contender Vitor Belfort on the April 10th event, however the former UFC light heavyweight champion was forced to pull out of the highly anticipated bout due to a shoulder injury.
Maia took a unanimous decision over Dan Miller at UFC 109 last Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada, however left with a minor cut on his eyelid. Apparently the wound isn’t significant enough to jeopardize his shot at Silva’s title. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard owns an impressive 12-1 professional record and has finished in 10 of those W’s, eight by way of submission.
“A dream of a lifetime, in one night,” Maia Tweeted shortly after the announcement.
Silva was last seen jabbing Forrest Griffin into unconsciousness at UFC 101 last August. “The Spider” is currently riding an 11 straight-fight win streak, finishing off 10 of those opponents before the final bell. He’s as close to unbeatable as they come in the world of mixed martial arts.
Maia’s chances of meeting Silva increased greatly after recently red-hot Chael Sonnen confirmed this afternoon the UFC wouldn’t offer him the 5Round affair because of the forehead laceration he received in his convincing unanimous decision victory over Nate Marquardt at UFC 109.
“Top contender Chael Sonnen was not available due to injuries sustained in his fight with Nate Marquardt,” White explained.
This is a monumental event for the UFC not only because the Octagon will be making its debut in the world’s second richest city, but it’s the first show they will host with their brand new Abu Dhabi-based partners, Flash Entertainment.
UFC 112 will be jumping off at the Concert Arena inside the Ferrari World theme park on Yas Island. Here are the fighters slated/rumored for the pay-per-view broadcast:
DaMarques Johnson vs. TBD
Jon Madsen vs. Mostapha Al Turk
John Gunderson vs. Paul Taylor
Paul Kelly Vs. Matt Veach
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Terry Etim
Nick Osipczak vs. Rick Story
Kendall Grove vs. Mark Munoz
Matt Hughes vs. Renzo Gracie
Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn (UFC Lightweight Champion)
Demian Maia vs. Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Champion)