Brazilian brawler Fabio Maldonado will hopefully be targeting a return to the light heavyweight division after what he terms an “embarrassing” loss against top-10 heavyweight Stipe Miocic at the TUF Brazil 3 finale. Maldonado showed courage by stepping up in weight to face Miocic, after Junior dos Santos was forced out of the main event due to injury, but ultimately paid a price for his bravado.
At least the end came quickly as Maldonado was taken apart in just 35 seconds by Miocic and didn’t absorb the sustained amount of punishment that he’s taken in some of his other UFC appearances.
The harsh dose of reality may have actually been a good thing. Maldonado had expressed an interest in future heavyweight fights against Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson before being dismantled by Miocic. The idea of the tough Brazilian facing either of those two heavyweight knockout artists would be frightening.
Maldonado should now be fully focused on a return to the 205-pound division, where he has won his last three fights, and a clash against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is an option that matchmakers should consider. Maldonado did the promotion a huge favor by stepping in to give the Sao Paulo card a Brazilian presence in the main event and shouldn’t be penalized for the loss. “The Iron Hillbilly” should be given a chance to redeem himself against a high-profile opponent in his proper weight class.
The legendary Rua was the victim of a third-round knockout against Dan Henderson in his last fight at Fight Night 38 in Brazil. He suffered a broken nose when it was mashed by one of ”Hendo’s” H-Bombs after Rua had the veteran on the ropes in the first two rounds of their rematch. The former UFC light heavyweight champion is on the down side of his career, having dropped three of his last four fights, but would still make for a potentially exciting, fan-friendly affair.
Both fighters are tough as nails and have had their share of wars over the years. With the UFC putting on so many events in Brazil, Maldonado vs. Rua would be a legitimate sell as a future main or co-main event offering.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.