Belfort injury hands Maia title shot at Anderson Silva

ESPN staff
February 12, 2010
Demian Maia is preparing for the biggest fight of his life © Getty Images

Demian Maia will contest the UFC middleweight title with Anderson Silva after Vitor Belfort was forced to pull out of UFC 112 due to injury.

Belfort recently underwent surgery on a longstanding problem with his left shoulder, which became aggravated during his training camp for the Silva fight. As a result, the UFC have opted for 12-1 Maia as Belfort's replacement, with top contender Chael Sonnen sidelined by an injury suspension following his stunning victory over Nate Marquardt.

"It's always tough when a top fighter like Vitor Belfort has to pull out of a big title fight, but we have found a high quality replacement," said UFC President Dana White. "Top contender Chael Sonnen was not available due to injuries sustained in his fight with Nate Marquardt , so top six middleweight Demian Maia will step in to fight for the title.

"Maia is an Abu Dhabi grappling champion, a five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, and he is 12-1 in MMA and coming off a win over Dan Miller at UFC 109. Anderson Silva vs Demian Maia will be a matchup between MMA's best striker and MMA's best grappler."

As stated by White, Maia provides very different questions for Silva to answer compared with original challenger Belfort. As a submissions expert, Maia will arguably be Silva's greatest test on the mat, where "the Spider" has previously been put in serious trouble by Travis Lutter at UFC 67.

Maia will concede a substantial striking advantage to Silva though, so the UFC will hope he does not employ similar tactics to that of Thales Leites, who drew boos from the crowd at UFC 97 for his attempts to pull guard - resulting in a dull points victory for Silva.

Silva v Maia is the co-main event alongside BJ Penn's lightweight title defence against Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. Watch it live on ESPN

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.