UFC 158, on March 16 in Montreal, will have 12 fighters in the welterweight card. One of the most interested in the event, however, will be outside the Octagon, watching everything with eyes wide open, with special attention to the last three fights at the Bell Centre, between the champion GSP and Nick Diaz, Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit and Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt.
Fifth place in the new official up to 170-pound UFC rankings, Jiu-Jitsu Demian Maia comes from victory over Jon Fitch, and still awaits the next opponent. The name Tarec Saffiedine, former Strikeforce champion and eighth in ranking, has been thrown around, but depending on UFC 158, a shortcut to the belt can take place.
“This moment in Demian Maia’s career is curious”, said Maia’s manager, Eduardo Alonso. “Since Demian went from middleweight to welterweight, our project was always to [fight for the belt]. This is the first goal. Once we achieve [No. 1 contender] status, the project changes: find a way to beat the champion, plunge into strategies, drills, etc. Today I see Demian one victory from a fight for the belt.”
However, according to Alonso, this proximity of being the champion can also be “tricky.”
“This is an interesting time, and tricky indeed,” he said. “You have a sense of success, since you achieved a series of goals and good victories, but at the same time you haven’t won anything yet. Any distraction, any stumble that you give, you will snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. It’s a big trap, and we don’t want to fall on it at all.
“I think everything is possible to happen in two weeks. Today, we still see a fight with Tarec as interesting … and with Josh Koscheck’s defeat in UFC 157, he rose slightly in ranking.
“I suppose that, even if Koscheck won, the UFC would want to see him against Demian now. Well, we have to wait for Montreal’s event and its consequences and varied scenarios. For example, scenario 1: Nick Diaz beats GSP – wouldn’t the rematch be inevitable? Scenario 2: GSP beats Nick Diaz with controversial results, generating an automatic rematch. Scenario 3: GSP wins with authority and Johny Hendricks defeats Condit – Hendricks then deserves to go for the title. Scenario 4: Condit defeats Hendricks – would a rematch with GSP be worthy? So, depending on the combination of several factors, Demian can even have an unlikely fight for the belt as his next outing, or wait for a fight against Tarec or even Rory MacDonald …”
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