Kamaru Usman needed a new opponent at UFC Chile, and the promotion is bringing in a big name to face him in a five-round main event in Santiago.
Demian Maia, a former title contender at both welterweight and middleweight, is the frontrunner to step in against “The Nigerian Nightmare” on May 19, replacing injured Santiago Ponzinibbio, sources told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani. The bout is not 100 percent official, but Maia will be the opponent barring a last-minute change.
Usman (12-1), who had called Maia out multiple times in the past, promising to “get him out of there in the first round,” headlines his first UFC event after winning seven in a row in the Octagon, capped off by a decision victory over Emil Meek.
Maia (25-8), the most experienced fighter Usman has ever faced record-wise, is coming off back-to-back decision defeats to welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and top contender Colby Covington. Maia won seven in a row prior to his losing skid.
The Fight Night card marks the UFC’s first trip to Chile, but the promotion had to find backup plans after losing both main and co-main bouts last week. Volkan Oezdemir vs. Mauricio Rua was re-scheduled to the upcoming UFC Hamburg event on July 22, and Usman was given a new opponent.