x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Anderson Silva to fight Maia in UFC 112

Victor Belfort pulls out of the Abu Dhabi event with a shoulder injury to set up an all-Brazilian middlewight showdown.

ABU DHABI // The unbeaten middleweight, Anderson Silva, will now face his Brazilian compatriot Demain Maia in April's Abu Dhabi Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) event after original opponent, Victor Belfort, was forced to have surgery on a shoulder. Maia, a grappling and submission expert is being touted as a worthy opponent to the middleweight champion after claiming a three-round win over Dan Miller at UFC 109. While the Sao Paulo native, 32, boasts six wins out of seven UFC bouts, five by submission, Abu Dhabi's UFC 112 event represents the biggest bout of Maia's career. Silva has 10 UFC victories behind him and has successfully defended his belt five times.

"It's always tough when a top fighter like Victor Belfort has to pull out of a big title fight, but we have found a high quality replacement," said the UFC President Dana White. "Top contender Chael Sonnen was not available due to injuries sustained in his fight with Nate Marquardt, so top-six middleweight Demian Maia will step in to fight for the title. "Anderson Silva versus Demian Maia will be a match-up between mixed martial art's (MMA) best striker and best grappler." Taking place in a purpose-built, 12,000-seater outdoor arena on Yas Island on April 10, the card will also see the headliner BJ Penn defend his UFC lightweight title against Frankie Edgar.

Other fights on the night include match-ups between the welterweights 'Slick' Nick Osipczak and Rick 'the Horror' Story as well as the ultimate fighter season three champion Kendall Grove, and Mark Munoz in a middleweight bout. John Gunderson will take on the two-time world kickboxing champion Paul Taylor. Veterans of UFC will also take to the ring as Matt Hughes locks horns with MMA pioneer and Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Renzo Gracie at welterweight. "There is a great buzz around UFC 112 already, thanks to the amazing fight card and the unique setting of the event," said the UFC chairman and CEO, Lorenzo Fertitta.

Tickets are available from www.boxofficeme.com. Six pricing categories start with upper grandstand tickets from Dh395 while at the other end of the scale, octagon-side platinum floor tickets are Dh3,695. The show lasts five hours.

stregoning@thenational.ae