Fabio Maldonado laid it down plain and simple when asked why he accepted a heavyweight fight with Stipe Miocic on short notice.
“I’m a man,” said Maldonado, in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. “I’m not hurt, so there’s no reason not take on a challenge like this.”
Maldonado and Miocic will square off Saturday night in the main event from Sao Paulo, Brazil at The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale. Miocic was originally scheduled to take on Junior dos Santos, but the former UFC heavyweight champion suffered a hand injury a few weeks ago.
Maldonado (21-6) has strung together a three-fight win streak that includes a March decision victory over Gian Villante. He also defeated Joey Beltran and Roger Hollett via decision last year after a loss to former No. 1 contender Glover Teixeira.
The loss to Teixeira, a bout that was stopped by a doctor after the second round, continues to bother Maldonado and was another reason he agreed to move up from light heavyweight and compete against Miocic, who is ranked inside the Top-10 after his wins over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga.
“I think it’s really shameful if you give up while you can still fight,” he said. “I was really upset when they stopped the fight with Glover. When I watched the tape later, I realized that it was the right decision but I was upset that they stopped it. It is a shame to not continue to fight when you can still fight.”
Maldonado owns 12 knockout victories to his credit, and another three via submission. Miocic (11-1) has finished eight of his 11 opponents by knockout, with his only loss being a TKO defeat in 2012 at the hands of Stefan Struve.
FightLine will have coverage of the card from Brazil, including play-by-play of the FOX Sports 1 main card.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Jason Silva