Demian Maia will replace an injured Vitor Belfort and fight middleweight champion Anderson Silva on April 10 at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, the UFC officially announced on Friday evening, ending a day of intense speculation over Silva’s next opponent after Belfort withdrew from the event on Thursday.
Maia (12-1) returned to action on Saturday at UFC 109, rebounding from his first career loss, a 21-second knockout to Nate Marquardt in August, with a unanimous decision over Dan Miller, which improved his UFC record to 6-1, including a previous victory over top 185-pound contender Chael Sonnen.
A left eyelid cut prompted the Nevada State Athletic Commission to medically suspended Maia until August, but he was not suspended from training and will apparently be healed and cleared to fight Silva.
“It’s always tough when a top fighter like Vitor Belfort has to pull out of a big title fight, but we have found a high quality replacement,” said UFC President Dana White in a release. “Top contender Chael Sonnen was not available due to injuries sustained in his fight with Nate Marquardt, so top six middleweight Demian Maia will step in to fight for the title. Maia is an Abu Dhabi grappling champion, a five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, and he is 12-1 in MMA and coming off a win over Dan Miller at UFC 109. Anderson Silva vs Demian Maia will be a matchup between MMA’s best striker and MMA’s best grappler.”
Silva (25-4) is a perfect 10-0 in the UFC, including a successful title defense over Thales Leites last April before again moving up to 205-pounds for a win over former champion Forrest Griffin in August.
UFC 112 also features lightweight champ BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar as well as Matt Hughes vs. Renzo Gracie.
Pictured: Demian Maia