The disappointment of a UFC 213 welterweight fight between Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone falling by the wayside has been soothed somewhat by the news that Tyron Woodley will defend his UFC welterweight title against Demian Maia on July 29 at UFC 214.
The fight between Woodley and Maia is the third championship bout scheduled for the event in Anaheim – following the headline light-heavyweight fight between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones and the women’s strawweight fight between Cyborg Justino and Tonya Evinger – and is, on paper, as good as any that can be made in the 170lb division right now.
Thirty-five-year-old Woodley, 17-3-1, won his current title with a stunning first-round knockout of Robbie Lawler last July and then found himself embroiled in a couple of fighters with Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, the first of which he drew, the second he won. The fight with Maia marks his third defence of the UFC welterweight title.
As for Demian Maia, 25-6, there can be few more deserving title challengers. After all, since dropping down to welterweight from middleweight in 2012, the 39-year-old Brazilian has lost only two of twelve fights (both by decision) and is unbeaten in seven. Last time out he out-grappled Jorge Masvidal for three rounds to take a split-decision win.
Maia fought for the UFC middleweight title in April 2010, coming up short in a fight against then-champion Anderson Silva, but is far better equipped to take the title now than he was back then. Moreover, at 39, he knows it’s likely to be a case of now or never.