The TUF Brazil 3 Finale now has a new main event after Junior dos Santos pulled out of his fight with Stipe Miocic due to a broken hand yesterday.
In a match-up that nobody saw coming, Brazilian fighter Fabio Maldonado has now stepped up to the plate and will take on Miocic instead.
Maldonado is currently on a three-fight winning streak, a nice turnaround in fortunes after having lost three in a row prior to that.
However, he’s been competing at light-heavyweight and for this next fight with Miocic he’ll have to move up to heavyweight, and to make it even more challenging he has less than four weeks to prepare for the five round fight.
Nevertheless, it seems that the always game Maldonado is looking forward to the fight.
“I’m really happy for this opportunity,” Maldonado stated in a press release. “I’ve been training for a long time for this. I’m at 223 pounds right now and I would keep this weight for the fight.”
In Miocic he faces the current No.7 ranked heavyweight contender who’s lost just one of his 11 professional fights and is coming off victories over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga.
The odds seem firmly stacked against Maldonado here, even from a stylistic point of view with Miocic’s wrestling and cardio likely to offer up significant problems, but the Brazilian sees it differently and thinks his boxing will be the key to victory.
“His style is a good match-up for me and it’s going to be a great fight,” Maldonado said. “His boxing is sharp, but mine is better.”
It’s an odd match-up to say the least and suggests that the UFC had difficulty finding an opponent for Miocic at short notice. The UFC likes to headline with a Brazilian when in that part of the world, and doggedly sticking to that philosophy probably best explains how they ended up targeting Maldonado.