What would this mean for the other contenders at 185 lbs.? A waiting game to say the least.
Contenders like Nate Marquardt, Michael Bisping, and Dan Henderson will now have to wait until at least this fall at the earliest to get their shot at the Middleweight belt.
There may be merit that Maia may not be the best suited for the title shot, although it is hard to argue against a man who is 5-0 in the UFC, and 10-0 overall in his brief mixed martial arts career.
Wins against competitors like Ed Herman, Nate Quarry, and most recently Chael Sonnen have given Maia's undefeated streak more sustenance than wins over opponents with lesser name value, such as Ryan Stout or Vitelmo Bandeira.
However, other Middleweights can lay claim to their rightful place at the top of the 185 lb. division as well.
Marquardt has had two very impressive wins recently, over Wilson Gouveia and Martin Kampmann. He's also had experience in the ring with Anderson Silva, and held his own until Silva overwhelmed him towards the end of the first round.
Michael Bisping is the winner of three straight, with his only loss via split decision to the UFC's current Light Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. Bisping is possibly the fighter most on a roll in the Middleweight division. Since his move to 185, Bisping has looked sharp, with wins over Charles McCarthy, Jason Day, and Chris Leben.
Another viable option, barring the outcome of his upcoming fight with Bisping, is former Pride Middleweight champ Dan Henderson. Another veteran, Henderson also has experience in the cage with Silva, albeit not having the best outcome.
Henderson recently looked good in his win over Rich Franklin and will look to improve upon that win to build momentum.
No matter who fights the winner of the upcoming title defense, you can bet that all eyes aforementioned will be on hand to watch Anderson Silva defend his belt against Thales Leites on Apr. 18. All will be taking good mental notes if Leites is able to put a chink in the armor of Silva.
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