LAS VEGAS - With his submission victory over Nate Quarry at UFC 91, Demian Maia has not only entered the top tier of the organization's middleweight division, but he's also joined the list of coaching candidates for "The Ultimate Fighter 9."
In this past Saturday's post-UFC 91 press conference, UFC President Dana White confirmed Maia as a possibility for the show.
Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson are the other candidates, but with neither apparently too interested in the appointment, and given Maia's rising stock in the organization, he could become the favorite to take the coaching slot opposite Michael Bisping.
"Joe Silva and I were talking about it, and we're making some moves right now in the 185-pound division," White said. "We're thinking about [Maia]. We think very highly of him.
Could one of those moves be a potential "TUF" coaching gig for Maia?
"It could be," said White, grinning ear to ear.
"Look, there are a lot of things we have going on. We're starting to do 'The Ultimate Fighter' in other countries. We're making this expansion now into all these different countries. ... Yeah, we've got a lot of stuff going on."
The ninth season of "The Ultimate Fighter" begins filming in January or February of 2009, and it'll likely debut in April on Spike TV. The season is set to feature a U.S. vs. U.K. theme -- one White has openly criticized in recent weeks.
Bisping has already been tapped to head the U.K. squad. Sources tell MMAjunkie.com
) that both Franklin and Henderson, though not completely unopposed to doing the show, aren't exactly clamoring for the open coaching spot. (Franklin shared such thoughts during a recent UFC Fight Club question-and-answer session.) And while the Brazilian-born Maia wouldn't necessarily fit the U.S.-themed team, White and the UFC have made a business of being flexible and capitalizing on opportunities as they come along.
Perhaps a U.K. vs. Brazil theme wouldn't be such a stretch. Or perhaps they scratch the country vs. country theme all together.
In any manner, Maia's first-round rear-naked choke of Quarry at UFC 91 was his ninth career victory and fourth straight in the UFC. When the topic of UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva came up after UFC 91, the undefeated Maia said he felt he was ready for a shot at the seemingly indestructible title-holder.
"Yeah, I feel ready," Maia said. "Since I started in the UFC, I'm ready (and) I could take on [anybody].
"Of course, some people ... want me to say, 'I want to kill you or something, execute you, break his arm.' Of course, I don't want to say that, but between you and me, I want to do that."
While White got a laugh from Maia's shot at humor, he put the breaks on the possibility of an immediate Silva-Maia fight.
"Any fighter you ever ask is going to say they're ready for anything," White said. "But I would like to see Demian fight a couple more fights before he fights Anderson Silva."
Maia had an idea for one such match-up. Soon after dispatching Quarry, Maia made a pitch for his potential rival coach.
"Maybe Michael Bisping is a good fight for me," Maia said.