Currently, Maia sits as the No. 4-ranked welterweight in the official UFC rankings. He has already earned his place among the elite of the division, and a win over Shields should hold some weight on its own as well.
Shields is not currently ranked at 170 pounds, but he just returned to the division. Over the last eight years of action, he has only dropped two fights. One to Jake Ellenberger, and one to divisional kingpin Georges St-Pierre. That should put in perspective how good Shields is regardless of him not being ranked.
He is a tough out. It would make the fourth straight win for Maia in the division, and his fourth straight quality victory.
As the No. 4-ranked contender, there are only three men above him. Current challenger Johny Hendricks, former challenger Carlos Condit and GSP's teammate Rory MacDonald.
If GSP loses, one would assume he will get an immediate rematch—much like fellow pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva. However, if the status quo is held at UFC 167, Maia should be next.
We have already seen Condit challenge for the title somewhat recently. While he is a credible challenger, it is time for new blood to challenge GSP, and Maia is one of the few remaining intriguing fights for the champion.
The other option is MacDonald.
Would he actually accept a title fight against his teammate, though? For the sake of the argument, let's say yes.
Maia should still jump him.
MacDonald was given a big fight against Jake Ellenberger earlier this year. He failed to impress. Nothing he did in that fight endeared him to fans or screamed that he should get the next title shot.
He won the fight, but failed to strike a claim for a title shot. He now has to fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 167. This is Maia's chance to surpass MacDonald in the rankings, and move into a position to challenge for the title.
Maia will have done enough to earn a title shot with a win over Shields. When picking out the next challenger, his name should stick out above the rest.
He is an interesting matchup for whomever comes out on top at UFC 167, has a win streak over solid competition and is a fresh face atop the division. He should get the next call for a title shot.
First things first, he must defeat Shields at UFC Fight Night 29.
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