Will Demian Maia finally get his shot at the UFC welterweight championship? The jiu-jitsu ace doesn’t really see any other scenario that makes sense.
Maia flew to New York back in November to watch Tyron Woodley defend his 170-pound title against Stephen Thompson at Madison Square Garden at UFC 205, but his hopes of being next in line disappeared quickly when the judges scored the title bout a majority draw.
The UFC has sense booked a rematch between Woodley and “Wonderboy" for UFC 209 on March 4, and Maia has decided to sit out and wait to see what happens in that fight. His resolve didn’t stop the promotion from offering him other fights to keep him active.
On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, the Brazilian opened up about the UFC’s decision to book the rematch, despite the fact that he has said multiple times he won’t face anyone but the UFC champion next.
"It’s hard to understand,” Maia said. "The game is changing and the UFC is… things are confusing right now, at least from my point of view. I’ve been working in the UFC for the last 10 years and I never see things like that. I am the No. 1 contender and nobody questions that.
"Three more weeks for the fight, it’s pretty close,” he continued. "I want to wait, no matter what. It’s hard to wait. Like, for me its much better to be active, to be fighting, because I’m an athlete and its always good to be active, but I know there’s a risk. I built my path here, I think I gotta be patient. With all my team, I will wait this three-and-a-half weeks that last for the fight.
"I can’t answer any more people in the street. When I go to the street, everybody asks when I’m gonna fight for the title, and I don't know what to say anymore."
Maia has a couple of theories to explain why the UFC keeps offering alternative fights, though.
"I know why,” he said. "I think there’s two reasons. One, you know, they really don't care too much if I’m gonna fight for the title or not. But the main reason is they are having problems setting up fights. They cancelled a couple of events and they need names that can sell. And I know, even if they say I don't sell, I know I sell something. I’m a name that can be as a co-main event or a main event and people want to see.”
The Brazilian welterweight, who has won six straight fights since May of 2014 — including dominant victories over Carlos Condit, Matt Brown, Gunnar Nelson and Neil Magny — expected to be the next title challenger after his most recent wins, and with a lack of other contenders, still believes he’ll be next.
"You cannot be certain about nothing in life, of course, but I don’t see nobody that can be there besides me,” Maia said. "I don't see nobody. The welterweight division, I don’t see nobody that can build something, can keep winning in this three weeks and can be the next contender. There’s not too much besides me.”
If everything goes according to his plans, Maia will step inside the Octagon against the winner of Woodley vs. Thompson later this year. He said he’s picking Woodley to win the rematch.