Demian Maia’s camp may have been expecting a middleweight title shot in August, but instead they’re getting what can only be considered a number one contender match with Nate Marquardt. Maia confirmed the news on his official website, saying the fight is on for UFC 102 in Portland, Oregon. Obviously it’s one hell of an interesting bout on paper, but the timing of this announcement begs the question, did Anderson Silva screw Maia out of a title shot with his performance against Thales Leites at UFC 97?
The answer is, pretty much. Had Silva gone out and looked like “The Spider” of old against Leites, the UFC probably would not have turned right around matched him against a former light heavyweight champ just a few months later, because they wouldn’t have needed to. If they felt like he was still a draw in a regular old title defense in his own weight class, Maia’s chances of getting that shot would probably have been much better. The only other reasonable choice would have been Marquardt, but he already had his chance and it wasn’t exactly the kind of fight that screamed out for a rematch.
Instead, the Silva/Leites snoozefest embarrasses Dana White and the UFC goes into crisis control mode to force Silva to do something interesting, and in the meantime Maia might as well take on Marquardt to decide who really deserves to be the top middleweight contender.
The good news for fans is, it’s a great fight. Maia vs. Marquardt makes great sense for the middleweight class, which has lacked a strong, undeniable top contender lately, and it’s an interesting clash of styles. You could make a case for either one of these guys being deserving of a shot right now. Whoever emerges from this matchup, you won’t even have to make the case for them. Meanwhile, Silva fights Griffin in a crazy superfight, and the UFC has a great summer on its hands. Everybody wins.