Demian MaiaBen Fowlkes seems to have reason to believe so.

A source close to the camp of UFC middleweight contender Demian Maia has informed Cage Potato that the Brazilian is expected to be offered the next middleweight title shot against the winner of the Anderson Silva/Thales Leites bout (in other words, Silva) late this summer.

There’s no official date set, but our source says Maia’s camp is expecting the bout to take place in late August, which would most likely put it at UFC 102 in Portland, Ore. The middleweight title bout would certainly bolster a card that’s rumored to be headlined by Randy Couture returning home to the Pacific Northwest to take on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

I honestly figured Maia would need one more big victory before he was given the shot, and perhaps he still does considering this news is coming from his camp, but if this is the UFC’s plans, I don’t think there’s any reason to complain about it. Looking back at Anderson Silva’s losses, the two big ones have come by way of submission, and if there’s anyone in the middleweight division that’s going to submit Silva, assuming he’s still the champ following UFC 97, it’s going to be Maia.

I’m sure this will raise the ire of many fans who believe Okami is long overdue the opportunity, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, but is he more deserving? I’m not so sure. Since Okami lost to Rich Franklin, he’s gone on to record three victories over Jason MacDonald, Evan Tanner, and Dean Lister, while Maia is still undefeated with wins over the likes of Jason MacDonald, Nate Quarry, Ed Herman and Chael Sonnen. All fights Maia finished in extraordinary fashion.

One may or may not be more deserving than the other, but it’s not hard to understand why the UFC would choose Maia over Okami (if they talked about Okami at all) when you consider the entertainment value of their performances.

Who would you rather see Silva defend his title against after Thales Leites? If he wins, of course.