It’s been almost two weeks since the UFC announced Demian Maia would replace Vitor Belfort at UFC 112 to challenge champion Anderson Silva for his title. Although Maia took the fight on just eight weeks notice, the last-minute sub isn’t sitting well with Octagon fans.
While in Australia to promote UFC 110 this past weekend, the company’s debut Down Under, UFC president Dana White was bombarded with questions regarding Maia and his worthiness to face the game’s most efficient striker.
“Listen, opportunities pop up for people, you know?” UFC president Dana White said of the dilemma Belfort’s exit left the organization in. “I like guys who jump and take the opportunity. You’d be surprised how many guys don’t.”
Maia owns an impressive 12-1 professional record and has finished eight by way of submission, so it’s clear how he would prefer to attack MMA’s baddest middleweight.
Striker vs. Grappler matchups sometimes end up being the instant classics, however they could also become massive disappointments which has forced fans to compare this scrap to Silva’s less than spectacular unanimous decision victory over Thales Leites at UFC 97.
“I can’t worry about that going into a fight,” White said of the prospects of hosting another snoozer for a title bout. “I can’t see that and try to make a fight for Abu Dhabi and think, ‘God, I hope he doesn’t fight like Thales Leites did. I think that Demian Maia is a very talented guy.
“He’s one of the best fighters in his weight class, and I think he wants to win this title. Obviously what happened to him in the Nate Marquardt fight he was not happy about. And I think he wants to come out and put on the best performance he can.”
Marquardt easily handed Maia his only pro blemish in their showdown at UFC 102 when he caught him with a right just moments into their contest. Although Maia bounced back nicely to take a unanimous decision over Dan Miller at UFC 109, fans are weary of shelling out $44.95 for this co-main event.
“Obviously the guy who should get that shot right now is Chael Sonnen, but he just came out of a really tough fight [at UFC 109]. He’s busted up,” White said of their preferred choice.
So the April 10th show will go on as expected, with Maia riding shotgun. Let’s see how long he’ll survive the shootout.