Both fighters are miles away from title contention -- and both fighters love to stand and trade leather -- so this fight is more for the fans than the rankings. And it should deliver an action-packed bout for Brazilian Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans.
Both fighters haven't fared so well as of late. Maldonado has lost three out of four, and Beltran had a decision win over Igor Pokrajac at UFC on FX 6 overturned to a "No Contest after he tested positive for nandrolone. Before that, "Mexicutioner" had dropped five out of seven bouts.
With that said, both Maldonado and Beltran are probably fighting for their jobs at UFC Fight Night 29.
It's no secret that both fighters tend to favor the striking aspect of mixed martial arts (MMA). This fight may have more potential to deliver a war than any other bout on the FOX Sports 1 televised main card.
They may be more obvious than most fights here, but let's take a look at the keys to victory for Fabio Maldonado vs. Joey Beltran.
Record: 19-6 overall, 2-3 UFC
Key Wins: Roger Hollett (UFC on FX 8), James McSweeney (The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale)
Key Losses: Glover Teixeira (UFC 153), Igor Pokrajac (UFC on FUEL TV 3)
Keys to Victory: Maldonado is a former undefeated professional boxer who possesses one of the best chins in MMA. The amount of punishment he absorbed against Teixeira at UFC 153 was the stuff of legends. Even though the fight was finally stopped, Maldonado gained a ton of followers that night.
He comes to fight every time out, and he'll be even more motivated with the Brazilian fans behind him. Maldonado has a lethal left hook and works the body with ruthless efficiency. He'll look to utilize his speed advantage to land endless technical combinations. Beltran may have a bit more power, but it's going to be nearly impossible to put Maldonado away with strikes.
Maldonado just keeps coming forward in order to land his own blows, and he's utilized that dangerous style to the tune of twelve knockout victories. But he's only recorded one in the Octagon, and it's going to be tough to stay employed if he ends up losing four out of five bouts.
Maldonado isn't completely inept on the ground. He has three submission victories to his name, but they were two guillotine chokes and a tapout due to strikes. Thankfully for him, Beltran is more likely to play into his gameplan rather than take Maldonado down to the ground. Maldonado should have a huge technical advantage in the striking game, and he's nearly impossible to knock out. The cards are in his favor in Barueri, but anything could happen in a brawl like this one.
Key Wins: Rolles Gracie (UFC 109), Tim Hague (UFC 113)
Key Losses: Stipe Miocic (UFC 136), Lavar Johnson (UFC on Fox 2)
Keys to Victory: Beltran is holding onto his UFC employment by a thread after his recent suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Even if he hadn't been busted, his track record is pretty bad recently. His only saving grace - like Maldonado - is that he puts on exciting back-and-forth battles that fans love to watch. The UFC brass would rather give fighters like these another chance to put on a war than have a wrestler grind out five straight split decisions.
Despite that, Beltran will most likely need a win to stay employed, and Maldonado is far from an easy out.
Since Beltran's main skill is his hands, he's going to have be proficient in his striking defense to stand a chance at UFN 29. Lumbering forward looking for power shots won't likely end Maldonado's night because he's never been officially knocked out. It took a doctor to call off his bout with Teixeira. Beltran has eleven knockouts on his record, but obtaining one against Maldonado would be quite the spectacle.
Even though he's not known for his grappling game, perhaps Beltran would be best served to take this fight to the mat. There's no reason to play into Maldonado's glaring strength and engage in a boxing match. He may have big power and a chin to match, but so does his opponent.
If he's been training his wrestling skills thoroughly, he might be able to neutralize Maldonado's standup. That could result in a boring decision, which is just not what either of these fighters is about. For that reason, it's probable that Beltran will throw caution to the wind and engage in a brawl with Maldonado.
Haymakers will fly.
Beltran has only been knocked out once himself, so we truly have two freight trains colliding here. "Mexicutioner" will be out to prove he still belongs in the Octagon, and a win over Maldonado would be a big step in the right direction.
Bottom Line From Barueri: The bottom line for this bout is a lot simpler than most other fights you'll see in the Octagon. Both fighters love to throw blows, and both fighters desperately need a win to stay afloat. That should translate into some fireworks for the action-hungry Brazilian fans.
There's not going to be a lot of technical expertise on display here once you get past Maldonado's boxing ability. Each combatant will be eager to prove that their striking can outduel the other, and with two fighters who've been knocked out a combined two times, that won't be easy.
This is one of those fights that are just set up to be a slugfest. In a night that could prominently feature a ton of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu expertise, a slobber knocker should be a welcome change of pace. Beltran and Maldonado are two of the best men the UFC could enlist to accomplish this task. We should see a war, and we'll probably be amazed at how much punishment each fighter absorbs while staying on their feet. But we shouldn't be by now. Enjoy the fight.
Two iron-chinned sluggers are set to throw down in Barueri. Who is your pick to win the battle and live to fight on in the Octagon?