Demian Maia will make his return to the eight-sided-cage this Saturday night in Montreal. He will clash with middleweight fighter and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season three runner-up, Ed Herman, at UFC 83.
Maia, who has won his first six career fights, will be in only his second in the UFC.
"I feel pretty good. I love the Octagon," Maia told MMAMania.com. Maia made his UFC debut at UFC 77: "Hostile Territory," when he tooled Ryan Jensen, submitting him via rear naked choke in the first round.
Herman will be one of Maia's tougher opponents. Since losing to Jason MacDonald at UFC Fight Night: "The Final Chapter," in fact, Herman has three straight UFC wins, including a knockout against Joe Doerksen at UFC 78: "Validation." Herman also has wins against Dave Menne and Nick Thompson.
Maia acknowledges that "Short Fuse" will be a tough battle.
"He's a very tough opponent, with good takedowns and ground game," Maia said. "To win I need to play my best ... and I'll do it."
Maia is certainly no slouch at the ground game. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner has won four of his six career fights by submission.
"BJJ is my life and if I never lost it's thanks to my background," Maia said.
Maia is also a 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Wrestling World champion and a runner-up in 2005. Maia would like to win the ADCC Title again in 2009.
"ADCC is the grappling world cup, the most important tournament with no gi in the world," Maia said. "After UFC, the ADCC is the most important event for me. I want to win again in 2009." Maia has also defeated UFC heavyweight fighter Gabriel Gonzaga in a jiu-jitsu match, among others.
Maia considers Rickson Gracie to be one of his biggest influences in his MMA career. He considers Gracie to be inspirational.
"He is one of the biggest BJJ icons, nowadays. He influences me not just a fighter but as person too," Maia said. "I know him personally and he is a great person that gives me a lot of inspiration."
With Herman on the horizon, a win would certainly make Maia more noticeable in the middleweight division. UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva has had a death grip on the division and appears to be holding on for just a while longer.
Maia would love an opportunity to fight Silva down the road.
"He is the best in the world," Maia said. "A fight with him one day is gonna be a great honor. I respect him a lot."
What's important for Maia now is to leave Montreal on Saturday night with a win over Herman.
"It s very important," Maia said. "I wanna get the title one day."
His journey toward that goal will have to go through the Bell Centre this weekend ... and Ed Herman.