Following a lackluster performance against Chris Weidman at UFC on Fox 2, Demian Maia decided to drop from middleweight to welterweight. The move has paid off, for Maia. The former middleweight title contender will look to move his welterweight record to 4-0 when he faces former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields at UFC Fight Night 29.
Maia made his debut at 170-pounds with a 47-second TKO win over Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 148. Maia followed that win up with a submission victory over Rick Story and a unanimous decision over Jon Fitch.
Maia's successful run at welterweight has him near the top of the divisional rankings, coming in at No. 4, and while he's not one to put a great deal of stock in the UFC's ranking system, the 35-year-old Brazilian feels that a win over Shields should be enough to set him up for a shot at the title.
"These rankings don't mean much," Maia told MMAFighting.com, "But, I believe I'll be able (to earn a title shot with a win). I don't see another fighter to fight."
The next welterweight title fight will take place on November 16, when Georges St-Pierre will put his title on the line against No. 1 ranked contender Johny Hendricks.
The other fighters ranked above Maia are Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald. Maia has never faced either Condit or MacDonald. Both Condit and MacDonald have fights booked in the coming months. Depending on the outcome of those fights, there is the possibility that the UFC may elect to book Maia against the winner of one of those bouts instead of giving him a title shot.
Maia has one UFC title fight on his record, losing a unanimous decision to then UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 112 in April 2010.
As for how Maia thinks he can lock up a shot at the UFC welterweight title, the black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu feels fighting to his strength is the way to go, "I think that if I submit him, I'll get closer to the title."
Maia and Shields will headline UFC Fight Night 29 from Ginásio José Corrêa in Barueri, Brazil on Wednesday night. The event will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
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