Instead, the Brazilian brawler will have to settle for undefeated Bulgarians, particularly Stanislav Nedkov, who he will fight in front of a friendly crowd at UFC 142 inside the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Jan. 14, 2012.
Maldonado battered the belly of Kyle Kingsbury at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 Finale nearly six months ago, landing brutal body blows throughout their 15-minute bout. However, it wasn't enough as Maldonado went on to lose a disappointing unanimous decision.
In his only other fight for the promotion, the former professional boxer finished James McSweeney via technical knockout at UFC 120 in Oct. 2010.
Nedkov, meanwhile, is fresh off a first round technical knockout of Luiz Cane at UFC 134 in his Octagon debut, extending his professional win streak to 12. He's a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but has also showed solid power, finishing half of his opponents via strikes.
It might be in his best interests to leverage that ground game against Maldonado, who appears to punch like a mule kicks.
UFC 142 will feature featherweight champion Jose Aldo, defending his 145-pound title against undefeated wrestler Chad Mendes. In addition, Vitor Belfort will strap on the gloves to try and ruin Anthony Johnson's debut at middleweight.