By Thomas Gerbasi
Following a hard-fought three round win over Dan Miller at UFC 109 that showed him to be more than just a submission expert, Demian Maia will jump right back into training camp for the biggest fight of his career – an April 10th meeting with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 112 at Ferrari World on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Maia replaces countryman Vitor Belfort, who underwent emergency surgery on his left shoulder earlier this week to fix a chronic injury that got worse in his training camp for Silva.
“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,” said UFC President Dana White. “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.”
A 32-year old native of Sao Paulo, Brazil who, like Silva, owns a black belt in jiu-jitsu, Maia (12-1) has won six of his seven UFC bouts, including five by submission, with four of those victories earning him Submission of the Night honors. He also holds a 2009 submission win over number one middleweight contender Chael Sonnen. In his most recent bout, at UFC 109 on February 6th, Maia went three rounds with talented New Jersey native Dan Miller and earned a near shutout unanimous decision. Now he will face the pound for pound king in Silva, who is unbeaten in ten UFC bouts and looking to add to his middleweight title defense record when he puts his belt on the line for the sixth time.
In the co-main event of UFC 112, lightweight champion BJ Penn looks to continue his dominant reign when he takes on Frankie Edgar. Also, two legends meet for the first time when future UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes battles groundfighting master Renzo Gracie.