A matchup pitting two of the best grapplers in MMA history is being targeted for a UFC event later this year, with Demian Maia meeting former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields in a welterweight showdown.
Of course, the fight is not official yet because the UFC hasn't determined which fight card will host the bout. However, although no contracts have been sent out, both fighters have agreed to meet, according to a report on UFC Tonight on Tuesday evening.
A former middleweight title challenger and multi-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion, Maia has found new life at 170 pounds since dropping down in weight in 2012.
When he was fighting at 185 pounds, he held a UFC record of 9-4 and battled for the middleweight championship against Anderson Silva at UFC 112 in 2010. Eventually the size of opponents got to be too much for him. So, like many fighters in MMA, he decided to make the cut down to a lower weight class.
The decision has paid off.
Maia is 3-0 so far as a welterweight and has picked up impressive wins over veteran Top 10-level competitors like Jon Fitch, Dong Hyun Kim and Rick Story. Maia was actually supposed to be fighting this weekend at UFC 163 in his native Brazil, but an injury to his opponent Josh Koscheck forced him off the card.
Now Maia will sit out a little while longer for a chance to face a former title contender at 170 pounds, who may also test his ground acumen in the fight.
Jake Shields is one of the most decorated ground fighters to find success in mixed martial arts during his career.
While his grappling accolades don't stand up next to Maia's, Shields has found more success during his career in MMA. He has mixed his wrestling with submissions while becoming one of the best fighters at welterweight and middleweight over the last several years.
Since coming to the UFC, Shields has had a mixed bag of successes and failures including a 2011 loss to welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, but he still remains one of the toughest fights at welterweight in the Octagon.
The fight between Shields and Maia, when made official, will serve as a critical bout for both fighters as they try to climb into the welterweight title picture at some point in 2014.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.