Third big fight added to Jan. 28 card
The two middleweights will battle next month at the United Center in Chicago. The UFC announced the fight early Wednesday morning, eight hours ahead of a press conference at the United Center officially announcing the fight card.
Taking part in that press conference will be UFC president Dana White as well as the main and co-main event fighters for the show: Rashad Evans and Phil Davis, who meet in a light heavyweight title eliminator; and Chael Sonnen and Mark Munoz, with the winner getting middleweight champion Anderson Silva next summer.
Bisping (22-3, 12-3 UFC) is just four days removed from a dominant win over Jason "Mayhem" Miller at the Season 14 Finale of "The Ultimate Fighter." The two middleweights were coaches on the show. Bisping was held in check by a Miller takedown in the first round, but dominated him on the feet in the second and third, earning the stoppage. White said the fight was the most one-sided he had seen in the UFC.
Bisping, the TUF 3 winner, has lobbied for a chance to be the top contender for a shot at Silva's title. Though White has announced the Sonnen-Munoz winner will get Silva perhaps in June when he has recovered from a shoulder injury, Bisping would put himself right into the mix with a win over Maia – which would be his fifth straight. The only three losses on Bisping's resume are to Evans (by split decision), Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva.
Making Bisping's inclusion on the Jan. 28 card somewhat intriguing, though, is his medical suspension from Saturday's fight in Las Vegas. The Nevada State Athletic Commission handed Bisping a one-month suspension for a hematoma over his right eye. He's out until Jan. 3 with no contact until Dec. 25, making an already-quick turnaround time from his fight with Miller seem a little shorter.
Maia (15-3, 9-3 UFC) has won three of his last four fights since losing a unanimous decision to Silva in a middleweight title fight at UFC 112 in April 2010. Most recently, he beat Jorge Santiago by unanimous decision at UFC 136, getting back in the win column after a unanimous decision loss to Munoz at UFC 131. Maia started his career 11-0, including five straight in the UFC. That 5-0 stretch included five submissions – and four Submission of the Night bonus awards. But when his fight with Bisping comes around, it will have been nearly three years since the last submission win for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Maia's last finish came at UFC 95 against Sonnen in February 2009.
UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis will be the promotion's first show on the Fox network under the seven-year deal that starts in 2012 – though the two did pair up last month for a special one-hour show featuring the heavyweight title fight between new champion Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez. It will also be the UFC's first trip to Chicago, the nation's third largest city and third largest media market, since UFC 90 in October 2008.