Before Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre attempts to defends his title for the ninth straight time against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 on Nov. 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, a pivotal division showdown will go down later tonight (Oct. 9, 2013) in Barueri, Brazil.
Demian Maia will battle Jake Shields in the main event of UFC Fight Night 29, which airs on Fox Sports 1, in a battle of two of the best submission specialists in mixed martial arts (MMA) today.
And while both men target an impressive victory, they're doing it for different reasons.
Jake will try to crack the top 10 after racking up two straight wins, which could have been three in a row had he not failed his post-fight drug test after his victory over Ed Herman at UFC 150. Maia, however, might be fighting for a much bigger prize, a shot at the 170-pound title; something he told MMA Fighting he deserves if he beats Shields.
He makes his case:
"I hope I can get the chance after I win. It will be four wins in a row. I've already fought for the title in the middleweight (division), so I'll be better ranked. The other fighters ranked higher than me already fought for the (welterweight) title. Shields is not well ranked, but he already defeated Carlos Condit, a former UFC interim champion, and he's a former Strikeforce champion. These rankings don't mean much, but I believe I'll be able (to earn a title shot with a win). I don't see another fighter to fight."
When asked during a recent UFC Fight Night 29 media conference call if Maia was in the mix for a shot at the title with a win, UFC President Dana White didn't hesitate to say "definitely" and proclaimed that the bout is important for both Demian and Jake.
"Yeah, it's a big fight for him, it's an important fight for him. Obviously, not only is Maia ranked, he's ranked in the top five. So a win would be a big win for Shields and obviously a huge loss for Demian Maia. So this is a very dangerous fight for Demian and a very, very important fight for Jake Shields."
A win for Demian would make it four in a row since making the drop down to Welterweight in 2012, which has earned him the No. 4 spot on the official UFC rankings.
Sitting comfortably ahead of him at the No. 3 is Rory MacDonald while Carlos Condit owns the No. 2 spot; two fighters who also have title fight hopes of their own should they prove victorious in their upcoming bouts against Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown, respectively.
Speaking of Brown, "The Immortal" himself has his eyes on a
triple threat match shot at the gold should he get an impressive win over "The Natural Born Killer" at UFC on FOX 9 on Dec. 14, 2013 in Sacramento, California.
There isn't a shortage of proven top challengers, but only one can emerge as the true No. 1 welterweight contender.
Who will it be?