Former UFC title challengers are set to collide on February 2, 2013 when standout wrestler Jon Fitch meets jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia at UFC 156 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC officials announced plans for the welterweight matchup on Thursday evening. Both fighters are coming off of big wins.
Fitch recently returned to action for the first time in more than nine months at UFC 153 in Brazil and earned a thrilling Unanimous Decision victory over rising star Erick “Indio” Silva. On the same UFC 153 card, Maia dispatched of former contender Rick “The Horror” Story with a first-round neck crank.
Fitch (24-4-1, 1 NC) challenged unsuccessfully for the UFC Welterweight Championship in 2008, but he rebounded with wins in each of his next five fights, including a victory over Thiago “Pitbull” Alves in a rematch at UFC 117. Fitch’s next bout, a much-anticipated showdown against former champion “The Prodigy” B.J. Penn, ended in a contentious Majority Draw and kept Fitch out of the title hunt. He was then shockingly knocked out by Johny Hendricks in just 12 seconds at UFC 141 and sat out all of 2012 until returning to face Silva this past month. In a back-and-forth affair, Fitch came on strong in the final round to take a well-earned decision win in what was clearly the Fight of the Night. He now looks to get himself back in title contention by defeating Maia in February.
Maia (17-4-0) kicked off his UFC career with five straight submission wins in the middleweight division, including a quick stoppage of Chael Sonnen in early 2009, but he later came up short in his bid for the promotion’s 185-pound title. After tasting defeat in two of his next five fights, Maia opted to move down to the welterweight division and he made a successful 170-pound debut by defeating Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim in July. The win led to a showdown with Story at UFC 153. While some expected that Story’s power would be too much for Maia, it was Maia who completely dominated the brief fight from start to finish. He forced Story to tap out to a neck crank at the midway point of round one and is eager to continue his climb up the welterweight ranks with a win over Fitch.
UFC 156: “Aldo vs Edgar” takes place on February 2, 2013, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event is headlined by a UFC Featherweight Championship bout between José “Scarface” Aldo and Frankie “The Answer” Edgar.
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)