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Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt at UFC 102 in Portland

When rumors began swirling around the interwebs that Demian Maia would fight for the belt in his next bout, many people (including yours truly) thought he should have to get through Nate Marquardt first. After Anderson Silva was booked to fight Forrest Griffin, a Maia vs. Marquardt matchup became a no-brainer. Now, Maia has confirmed the fight on his official web site.

This fight has number one contender’s match written all over it. Maia has submitted so many opponents inside the Octagon that they really need to re-name the “Submission of the Night” award after him. Marquardt, on the other hand, has been on an absolute tear since his 2007 loss to Silva. He’s finished Jeremy Horn, Martin Kampmann, and Wilson Gouveia, and only lost to Thales Leites because of a few point deductions as he physically dominated the Brazilian. On top of all that, the timing is perfect. This fight takes place in August as does Silva’s date with Griffin. That means both Silva and the winner of the Marquardt v. Maia fight will have about the same amount of time to prepare for a title fight in December or January.

While it only seems logical that the winner of this fight get the next title shot, it isn’t exactly a lock. If Michael Bisping disposes of Dan Henderson in July, he could very well fight for the gold in his next bout. While it’s more of a long shot, let’s also not forget the war of words that has been brewing between Wanderlei Silva and the middleweight champion. If “The Axe Murderer” is able to beat Rich Franklin in violent fashion, he’ll be right there in the mix as well.

In any case, this fight will be one of the highlights of the UFC’s summer schedule. Maia’s wizard-like jiu jitsu combined with Marquardt’s Street Fighter-esque style should make for an exciting match-up at the least.