When news surfaced last week pertaining to Mark Munoz’s withdrawal from UFC on FOX 2 the fallout could have been far worse than it was, as the organization quickly found a replacement for Munoz in the form of Michael Bisping as well as an adequate fill-in for the spot Bisping vacated against Demian Maia. And, though the last second shift might upset some competitors, it turns out everyone in the situation has exited the hitch happy.

Maia spoke some about the events in a recent interview where he showed great respect for Chris Weidman, his new opponent, as well as for the sport’s audience and the event in general.

“Honestly, now the fans know more and more about the sport and know he’s a really tough guy and they’ll worship this fight as much as if it was Bisping,” explained the submission specialist to TATAME on the subject of Weidman. “On the old days they would worry a lot about a name, but the guy’s undefeated: on a row, seven fights, a high level wrestler.”

As far as fighting on short notice, Maia credited his conditioning and said the event meant too much to pass on, stating, “I gotta take advantage of this phase I am where I’m well trained and I can’t waste it. I would get upset if I would not fight, especially since it’s a FOX fight, which will be huge for me and my name.”

While Rousimar Palhares was originally contacted for the match-up, declining it in the end, Maia said he understood completely and made it clear he was pleased with the challenge he’d been presented with instead.

“I wouldn’t take a fight 10 days in advance after I had just fought. It’s a high risk for your career,” said Maia of Palhares. “(Dana White) got the guy who would accept it easily and haven’t fought for a long time. It’s not easy. He found a tough guy, undefeated, which will be a great test for me.”

Catch Maia-Weidman when they meet in the UFC on FOX 2 opener on January 28 at 8:00 PM EST on FOX.

MMATraining Take: Maia has handled the situation with pure class, knowing Weidman may not have Bisping’s name-value but real fans understand what a great fight it actually is (and not underestimating Weidman either). It should be one helluva show next weekend!