Well that was quick. I spend a night away from the computer for a change, come back and Demian Maia is fighting Anderson Silva for the middleweight title at UFC 112.

“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.

“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.”

Outside of Chael Sonnen, I definitely think Demian Maia is best alternative to challenge Silva for the title. His striking is obviously nowhere near Anderson’s level, but if Maia can get him to the ground all bets are off. To be honest, I think his chances are much better than Vitor’s was.

The only issue is Maia was medically suspended until August for a cut on his eyelid. There’s no athletic commission in Abu Dhabi, but I don’t think the UFC would put someone in the cage overseas if a US athletic commission wouldn’t allow it. They’ve officially announced it, so I’m presuming they’re confident a doctor can clear him in time for the fight. At least I hope that’s the plan.

Image via Sherdog

Update: Demian Maia is excited…

“I knew about it last night. I still can’t believe it. My manager called me and they asked if I wanted to fight for the belt. I said ‘of course, you don’t even have to ask it’…I’ll have time to prepare an strategy. I’m coming from a heavy training and I’m in a fight rhythm. I’ll let my body rest this week and I’ll start the training next week…I still don’t know where I’ll train, but I’ll go train Boxing with (Luis Carlos) Dorea for sure. My physical preparation wlll be with (Rafael) Alejarra…If I say to you that I’m gonna exchange with him I’ll be lying. It’s the same thing if I say he’ll go to the ground with me. But I’ll go to this fight ready for everything. It’s a title fight and the title always was my dream. I imagined having this title shot a year ago, but I had two more fights and God, for one reason,  gave it to me now.”

Update 2: Ed Soares is actually pleased with the match-up for a change.

“I think it’s a very interesting matchup. I think it’s MMA’s best striker against MMA’s best grappler. I think it kind of brings back the old-school UFC of standup fighter vs. grappler…I think Demian is a professional. He’s a great person. He’s a very humble guy, and he’s a very talented guy. This is the classic, old-school MMA fight where it’s the world’s best grappler against the world’s best striker. It’s got that old-school feel…I think it’s a shame that Chael wasn’t able to take the fight because I know with all that crap he was talking about Anderson this and Anderson that it would be interesting for him to put all those things he had to say into the octagon. But then again, you’ve got Demian Maia here who is a guy who submitted Chael stepping up here and taking the fight on less-than-two-months’ notice…Demian obviously has improved his stand-up game quite a bit. I’m not going to say he’s an A-plus striker now, but you definitely can see that his striking game has improved. It might not be in his best interest to stand with Anderson, but I think he can stand with Anderson a lot better than he was able to six months ago. He seemed like he knew how to move around the octagon much better, and he looked like he felt a lot more comfortable using his hands. He wasn’t just desperate to take his opponent down. I think that’s going to be important. I think that’s going to present some challenges.”