After outclassing Jason Miller this past Saturday night at The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale, Michael Bisping (22-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) makes a quick return back to training camp.
His next foe comes in the form of dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Demian Maia (15-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC), who's currently ranked seventh in MMAWeekly.com's middleweight top 10.
Bisping and Maia will fight as part of a three-fight main card live on Fox on Jan. 28 in Chicago's United Center.
Bisping, who's the fifth-ranked middleweight in the world, has put together a four-fight win streak featuring back-to-back technical knockout victories over the previously mentioned Miller and Jorge Rivera.
“It is a huge honor to fight on American national television on FOX,” Bisping said via UFC press release. “Going straight back into camp, missing Christmas, none of that even entered my mind. I want to earn my way to a title shot and fighting a former No. 1 challenger as dangerous as Maia is exactly the opportunity I have been hoping for. This is the most crucial fight of my life.”
The Brit's technical striking and cardio are without a doubt his strength, but can he handle Maia's world-class ground skills in the most crucial fight of his life?
Back-to-back training camps should actually benefit Bisping, as he's openly stated throughout his career that he prefers to remain active.
As for Maia, he most recently earned a decision victory over Jorge Santiago at UFC 136 in which he utilized his grappling skills to score his ninth Octagon win.
Since his terrible championship loss to Anderson Silva in April of this past year, Maia has displayed a vast improvement in his striking. While he may elect to test Bisping's ground skills, Maia certainly has the ability to compete with "The Count" while the fight remains on the feet.
“I think Michael Bisping is a great fighter and will be one of the hardest fights I ever had,” Maia said via UFC press release. “Some people underrate him, but I think I can never underestimate him. I consider him one of the top contenders at middleweight. He is someone with only three losses in over 20 fights, with one of those losses coming to Rashad in a higher weight class. It shows how tough he is and the challenge that is ahead of me.
"I'm also very excited to be fighting in Chicago for the first time, a city where I spent part of some of my last training camps, and where I have a lot of friends. If that was not enough, on top of all that, fighting on FOX is a huge opportunity.”
An aggressive approach from Maia would disrupt Bisping's timing, forcing him to a heavy grappling contest and preventing Bisping from gaining momentum on the feet.
Unlike Bisping's previous two opponents, Maia will not engage in trash talking, but the fight itself will speak for itself, as it should be action packed.
An early prediction leans toward Maia earning a decision victory, as I feel his edge in grappling will be the deciding factor in this title contender matchup.
Bisping and Maia will square off for the opportunity to fight for the middleweight championship after the winner of Sonnen and Munoz faces Anderson Silva.
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