UFC 131 Results: 4 Fights Demian Maia Should Take to Rebound

Sean SmithAnalyst IJune 12, 2011

UFC 131 Results: 4 Fights Demian Maia Should Take to Rebound

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    Despite losing to Mark Munoz at UFC 131, Demian Maia may have taken a step forward in his MMA career. During the fight, Maia showed much improved striking, which has been his Achilles heel since he came into the UFC.

    Maia will now have to try to get a new winning streak going in order to get back in the mix for getting a shot at the middleweight title, but that shouldn't be a problem as long as his stand-up game continues to progress like it has.

    Here are the four most likely fights that Maia could take next in order to get back on a winning track.

Loser of Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama

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    Vitor Belfort and Yoshihiro Akiyama are scheduled to meet at UFC 133 in August. The loser of this fight will most likely be in a similar position as Maia, just outside of the conversation of serious contenders in the division.

    While Maia's striking has improved, he won't be likely to try and stand with either of these fighters for very long. Maia has the ability to outclass both of these potential opponents on the ground, though.

Chael Sonnen

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    The MMA community is still waiting for word on when Chael Sonnen will be able to return, but a rematch with Demian Maia could be a possibility if Sonnen is able to clear things up with the California State Athletic Commission in the near future.

    Sonnen was submitted by Maia in the first round the last time these two fighters met, but a rematch would allow Sonnen the opportunity to show that he can make improvements in his submission defense, which has been the cause of eight of his 11 career losses.

Loser of Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben

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    This fight between Wanderlei Silva and Chris Leben will take place at UFC 132 in July. The loser will clearly be out of the title picture, but both fighters always provide a stiff test for anyone they fight.

    Whether on their feet or on the ground, Maia is going to have to work hard to defeat either Silva or Leben. A tough test is really what Maia will need in his next fight to prove he is a serious contender in the middleweight division.

Jorge Santiago

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    Jorge Santiago is coming off of a disappointing loss to Brian Stann in his return to the organization at UFC 130. Despite the loss, Santiago's name still makes him a justifiable opponent for elite middleweights.

    Santiago is a dangerous fighter, but probably a tad overrated after beating up on non-UFC competition for the last few years. A win over Santiago is very realistic for Maia and would put his name right back on the map as one of the best middleweights in the world.

    Sean Smith is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. For the latest insight and updates on everything MMA, you can follow Sean on Twitter here.