With only one week until the curtain is drawn on “UFC 112: Invincible,” Octagon fans are still not thrilled with the organization’s decision to have Demian Maia serve as a last-minute replacement to challenge middleweight champion Anderson Silva for his title.
“The Spider” was originally slated to face top contender Vitor Belfort this Saturday, however the former UFC light heavyweight champion was forced to pull out of the highly anticipated bout due to a shoulder injury.
Although the Brazilian jiu jitsu wizard took the fight on just eight weeks notice, UFC president Dana White was immediately bombarded with questions regarding Maia and his worthiness to face the game’s most efficient striker.
Fast forward two months and you’ll see the backlash has only snowballed.
“Listen, opportunities pop up for people, you know?” White recently 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 main event.
Silva is a 6-to-1 favorite to make his seventh consecutive middleweight title defense.
Don’t forget that it’s an early start this Saturday, with the live pay-per-view broadcast beginning at 1PM ET/10AM PT. However, a same-day replay will also be made available during the UFC’s customary 10PM ET/7PM PT time slot.