(High on the list of the last places you want to see Demian Maia: mounted on top of you. Photo courtesy of NBC Sports.)
The UFC seems committed to offering the remaining “Ultimate Fighter” coaching spot to the winner of the Rich Franklin-Dan Henderson bout at UFC 93 this weekend, despite the fact that neither of them seem excited about getting the job, least of all Franklin. That makes for not only an anti-climactic main event (just picture Franklin, if he wins, standing in the Octagon afterwards and making a face like your dad used to when you’d give him a tie for Christmas every year), but it’s also likely to carry over into making the inevitable season-ending coach fight into something of a bore.
The hell of it is, the solution to this problem is right in front of the UFC, and it’s Demian Maia. He wants a shot at Michael Bisping, and probably wouldn’t mind the low pay and Vegas exile that comes with the coaching job. What’s more, Bisping can’t seem to stop talking about Maia despite the fact that a fight with him isn’t on the horizon at the moment.
Just check his comments to the UK’s Telegraph in a story published yesterday:
Rising star Damian Maia [sic], a submission expert with great striking skills, unbeaten in 10 fights, has been making loud noises within Bisping’s earshot.
“I don’t like the sound of those noises, and I will pacify him,” said Bisping. “Damian is a really nice guy, a gentleman and a sportsman. He wants to go as far as he can in this sport. …A lot of people seem to want to call me out. I don’t want to sound arrogant but they get beaten or knocked out when they come up against me. Damian is a submission expert, but he won’t get me down, and he’ll get knocked out. He’ll just have to get to the back of the queue for now.”
Exactly why Maia, who’s undefeated in his MMA career, should have to wait while Henderson and Franklin fight at light heavyweight to see who will meet Bisping at middleweight, well, that’s unclear to everyone but the UFC brass. It seems much more compelling to match two up-and-comers like Bisping and Maia against one another, and it also sounds like a more interesting clash of styles.
Unfortunately, Dana White seems to have already made up his mind to ignore the great potential here and stay the course with his original plan, whether we (or Franklin and Henderson) like it. That’s just what the TUF series needs. A season where even the coaches don’t want to be there.