RIO DE JANEIRO – While there's limited buzz surrounding next Wednesday's UFC Fight Night 29 main event between Demian Maia and Jake Shields, UFC President Dana White believes a lot is at stake going into the welterweight matchup.
"It's a big fight," White told a small group of reporters on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. "It's a fun fight, too. These guys are stylistically matched up very well."
Maia (18-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) last headlined a UFC event when he fought Anderson Silva for the middleweight title in April 2010. And Shields (28-6-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) most recently topped a card a little more than two years ago with a loss to Jake Ellenberger at UFC Fight Night 25. But now they will come together for a five-round clash inside Jose Correa Arena in Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The event airs on FOX Sports 1 with some preliminary card action set to stream on Facebook.
With divisional kingpin Georges St-Pierre scheduled to put his title on the line against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 next month, the 170-pound weight class is waiting to see if "Rush" will reign supreme or if a new champion will be crowned.
Regardless of who comes out the victor, no clear-cut No. 1 contender has been established to challenge St-Pierre or Hendricks, which only elevates the importance of a good showing for Maia and Shields.
Maia enters the fight with an undefeated record since dropping to the welterweight division in mid-2012. The Brazilian has dominated increasingly difficult competition and will look to earn his second UFC title shot when he competes in front of his hometown crowd.
Shields also is undefeated in his past three fights, though he has fluctuated between weight classes until finally settling on welterweight as his home earlier this year.
The 34-year-old hasn't been the most consist of competitors since joining the UFC roster, but he will have the chance to put that behind him by earning what would be his signature win with the promotion.
While White was unwilling to put a label on the fight as one that could lead the winner directly to a title shot, he does admit the better man that night will be in perfect position to receive more meaningful fights going forward.
"It's an interesting fight," White said. "The guy who wins this fight is in a good position in that weight division."