Demian Maia was seemingly the odd man out earlier this afternoon when it was announced Mark Munoz was injured in training and would be unable to fight Chael Sonnen at UFC on Fox 2, which will take place in less than two weeks at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., on Jan. 28, 2012.
That's because his opponent, Michael Bisping, was tapped to replace "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" opposite "The Peoples Champion." But then undefeated middleweight prospect Chris Weidman stepped up on short notice, accepting a fight against the former number one 185-pound contender hours later in what will certainly be the toughest test of his bright mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
Weidman, the jiu-jitsu protege of former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion Matt Serra, has won back-to-back-to-back fights inside the Octagon since making his debut with the promotion in March 2011. He bested Alessio Sakara via unanimous decision at UFC on Versus 3, as well as Jesse Bongfeldt at UFC 131 and then Tom Lawlor at UFC 139, both via submission.
"All American" -- who was a decorated amateur wrestler at Hofstra University -- won't have nearly the same type of submission success against Maia, who is perhaps the most dangerous mat technician in the division, if not on the entire roster.
For Maia, this is certainly a step backward -- the originally-scheduled middleweight tilt represented 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" over Bisping would have certainly "Count"(ed) toward getting him back "in the mix." Now he'll have to suck it up and attempt to win a lose-lose fight -- if he wins, it doesn't advance him much further, while a loss is a straight up momentum killer.
The good news is that the UFC, either way, will likely reward him handsomely for accepting the bout, either in victory or defeat, now and in the future.
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 division champion Jon Jones.
Also penciled in for the FOX fight card is a middleweight title eliminator that pits former championship challenger Sonnen against Bisping, the winner of which will battle "The Spider" later this year.
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