Demian Maia has taken the 170 lb. division by storm since cutting the extra 15lbs. from Middleweight. The former 185 lb. title challenger was slated to take on Josh Koscheck at UFC 163, until Kos had to withdraw from the bout due to injury. Rumours of Nick Diaz stepping in to replace Kos have circulated, but it looks like Jake Shields willl now face Maia at an unnamed Brazilian UFC event this fall.
According to Lancenet.com.br, Maia and Shields have verbally agreed to the bout. I have to say that I was surprised when I first heard the news, because Maia is certainly much higher up the food chain than Shields. Although Shields is unbeaten since 2011, he has only competed three times in that gap.
After beating Yoshihiro Akiyama by decision at UFC 144, Shields went on to decision Ed Herman, only to fail a post fight drug test. After serving a nine-month suspension, Shields returned to action at UFC 161, beating promotional newcomer Tyrone Woodley in a controversial decision.
Maia, on the other hand, is on an absolute tear. Most recently dominating Jon Fitch for three rounds, he also finished Dong Hyun Kim and Rick Story in his two previous bouts. Shields wouldn't be a huge victory for Maia, who is already being talked about in the title mix, but it would certainly put Maia right up there in the most stacked division around.
I personally think this is a great match up for Maia and a terrible one for Shields. Maia is an absolute powerhouse at 170, with ever-improving striking. Grappling may be about even, but I don't think this fight is going Shields' way at all. That being said, I've been wrong in the past, and MMA isn't the easiest sport to predict.