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.