As fate would have it, Demian Maia is the next challenger to the UFC middleweight belt. In making it to such an enviable position, a string of different events conspired in his favor. The first depended on the fighter himself: recovering from his loss to Nate Marquardt by beating Dan Miller, at UFC 109. On the same evening, one of the main contenders in the division, the very Marquardt was unexpectedly defeated by Chael Sonnen, who placed himself next in line to face the Spider. The second factor was Vitor Belfort being scratched from the April 10 title-bout at UFC 113, in Abu Dhabi, after the “Phenom” underwent surgery. With Belfort out, the doors opened for Sonnen, but a deep gash on his face resulting from his fight with Marquardt meant he would not recover in time. Therefore, in order of merit according to the organization’s criteria, Demian Maia’s opportunity materialized.
Demian and Anderson, despite having several friends in common, are not on the friendliest of terms. Nevertheless, that doesn’t keep the challenger from heaping praise on his opponent.
“I’ve always been a fan of him as a fighter. I’m no fan of him as a person. I’m not a fan of his on a personal level, like I am of Minotauro, Cigano and Wanderlei. But as an athlete, I’m still a fan, regardless of what happens in this fight. He’s excellent. I’m happy when he wins and I support him. I confess that when he faced Thales Leites (UFC 97), I didn’t root for him. But in a lot of other fights of his I did. I have no problem with him whatsoever. I’m cool about it,” said Maia in an interview in the latest issue of NOCAUTE magazine, now on newsstands across Brazil.