Super Bowl weekend is stacked.
Add top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight contenders Jon Fitch and Demian Maia -- who are both coming off big career wins -- to the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's annual blockbuster pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, which is scheduled to take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Feb. 2, 2013.
Fitch, a mainstay in the top 10 of the 170-pound division, has long been a terrific grappler, though one who has been criticized heavily for being boring in grinding performances. His career has been mostly successful, including a 16-fight win streak that earned him a world title fight against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87.
However, the fight with St. Pierre proved too much for the gritty wrestler, and Fitch was moved to the back of the line for another crack at the belt. Fitch and Zuffa brass seemed at odds for some time, and with as little fan support as he was getting, even a five-fight win streak over tough opponents wasn't enough to get him near the belt.
After a draw with B.J. Penn at UFC 127, his title hopes were thwarted, and then they plummeted even farther with a 12-second knockout loss to Johny Hendricks in Dec. 2011. Realizing a necessity to reinvent himself, Fitch put on a terrific, "Fight of the Night" performance against Erick Silva at UFC 153, quickly putting his name back into the top of the division.
With an impressive win over Maia, Fitch could be very near a title shot he was hunting for not too long ago.
Maia, a grappling ace with terrific ground work, has also been with the organization for some time. He started his UFC career in 2007, rattling off five straight submission wins over some of middleweight's tougher opponents, most notably Chael Sonnen. Sadly for Maia, his career became a little hectic after a loss to Nate Marquardt at UFC 102, as he was never able to maintain any more than a two-fight win streak since then, though he did receive a 185-pound title shot in that timeframe.
After a loss to Chris Weidman at middleweight, Maia decided that the best career choice for him would be to move down to the welterweight division, and so far, it has proven to be a great decision. He is currently riding high on two consecutive first round wins over Dong Hyun Kim and Rick Story, with no reason to believe he can't carry on the momentum. He's proven to be a relentless attacker at welterweight, getting back to his roots with a submission heavy focus.
If he can defeat Jon Fitch at UFC 156, he will have made an unlikely run at welterweight and definitely find himself in contention.
UFC 156 will be headlined by a title bout between Featherweight champion Jose Aldo and former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Also featured on the card will be a Light Heavyweight mash up between Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, as well as a potential showdown between Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida.
For more on UFC 156 be sure to check out our complete event archive right here.