SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 27: Michael Bisping of Great Britain celebrates his victory over Jorge Rivera of the USA in their middleweight bout part of at UFC 127 at Acer Arena on February 27, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
What's this? Kind words for Michael Bisping?
The British bad boy, lambasted by fans for his behavior on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14, as well as his saliva-to-air missile on Jorge Rivera at UFC 127 last year in Australia, has an unlikely fan in the middleweight division.
UFC on FOX 2 opponent Demian Maia.
The grappling wizard, who faces "The Count" on the network-televised special from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, on Jan. 28, 2012, has no reason to think bad of his fellow 185-pound contender.
From his interview with YourMMA.tv:
"I think he is a very good fighter, with a solid record, underrated in many senses and well-rounded. In theory, his ground game should be a little weaker than his striking and wrestling, but the people he has fought usually haven’t capitalized on that during his fights, and he has proven himself a lot! So I have to say he is very well rounded. I don't have any problems at all with Bisping. He was always very respectful and polite whenever we met, so I have no reason to think bad of him. I think he is an intelligent guy and has helped our sport to grow a lot in the UK and Europe, and that can't be denied."
For Maia, the middleweight tilt represents an opportunity to re-establish his place among the division's elite. After a five round dance with Anderson Silva at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, the decorated grappler has gone 3-1, with his lone defeat coming by way of close unanimous decision to fellow contender Mark Munoz.
A convincing win in "The Windy City" will surely "Count" towards getting him back "in the mix."
For Bisping, it could be the final hurdle in the 185-pound title chase.
UFC on FOX 2, which will mark the promotion's second appearance on network television, will be headlined by a light heavyweight number one contender bout, as Rashad Evans and Phil Davis return from injuries to battle for the right to fight Jon Jones.
For the latest UFC on FOX 2 news and notes check out our comprehensive event archive right here.