Fabio Maldonado finds himself in a no-lose situation heading into this weekend’s heavyweight showdown against Stipe Miocic at the TUF Brazil 3 finale. The Brazilian slugger looks to extend his current win streak to four when he squares off against the top-10 contender.
Maldonado did the promotion a huge favour by stepping in as a late replacement and moving up in weight after former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was forced to withdraw due to an injury.
Maldonado has carved out a reputation as an all-action warrior with his impressive boxing skills and seemingly inhuman ability to absorb punishment. That tremendous chin will be tested against the much bigger Miocic, who has some impressive skills of his own in the stand-up game. Maldonado is fresh off a unanimous decision win over Gian Villante at Fight Night 38. He put on a striking clinic in that bout and now gets a chance to headline a card on his home soil.
As for Miocic, it would appear as though he’s in a no-win predicament. If the no. 7 ranked Ohio native blasts through Maldonado, then it will be regarded as something that was expected. However, if he should struggle or be upset, it would be a major career blow. Miocic is a very athletic heavyweight who also possesses a solid wrestling pedigree to go with his striking skills. He’s compiled an impressive 11-1 career record, with that lone setback coming against the towering Stefan Struve.
Miocic has rebounded well from that loss with back-to-back victories and was poised for a potential star-making opportunity against the no. 2-ranked dos Santos. Now, he gets a very willing but unranked combatant in Maldonado, who had been previously campaigning as a light heavyweight.
While Maldonado-Miocic is a highly unlikely main event, it should make for a very fan-friendly fight. Maldonado’s legendary toughness will get a true test against one of the promotion’s top heavyweights. Maldonado is forecasting a bloodbath, and that wouldn’t come as any surprise given his previous Octagon performances.
Meantime, Miocic is just looking to keep the positive momentum rolling and get the job done against a game and much smaller opponent. If Miocic is victorious, perhaps matchmakers will revisit a fight against dos Santos. He’s made it perfectly clear that he’s still very interested in facing “Cigano” down the road.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports