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UFC 179 fight card: Fabio Maldonado vs Hans Stringer fight preview

Light heavyweight sluggers Fabio Maldonado and Hans Stringer are set to battle on the main card of UFC 179 this Saturday night (Oct. 25, 2014) inside Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In a match between such experienced fighters, what adjustments must they make to win? Read our fight preview to find out!

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Fabio Maldonado and Hans Stringer will battle it out at UFC 179 this Saturday night (Oct. 25, 2014) inside Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

After winning three straight fights, Maldonado made the awful decision to accept a short-notice bout at heavyweight against Stipe Miocic. "The Iron Hillbilly" -- who is smaller than quite a few middleweights -- did not last a full minute. Back at light heavyweight, Maldonado will look to return to his former success.

Despite being fairly young at 27 years old, Stringer possesses a wealth of experience with nearly 30 professional bouts. He made his UFC debut in March with a forgettable victory over Francimar Barroso. He'll look to make a bit more of a statement here.

Fabio Maldonado

Record: 21-7

Key Wins: Gian Villante (UFC Fight Night 38), Joey Beltran (UFC Fight Night 29)

Key Losses: Stipe Miocic (TUF Brazil 3 Finale), Glover Teixeira (UFC 153)

Keys to Victory: Maldonado is a brilliant offensive boxer with absolutely terrible defense. For the most part, he relies on his iron chin to trade punches, which has largely been effective against non-heavyweights.

First and foremost, Maldonado is a volume puncher. He rarely loads up on any one shot, instead waiting for an opportunity to fire off dozens of punches. Despite his pudgy appearance, Maldonado is able to maintain a high pace and wear his opponent out.

Maldonado has a well-earned reputation as a ferocious body puncher. After he gets in close, he batters his opponents ribs and is willing to eat punches or knees to the dome in order to do so.

The problem is, of course, getting in close. Maldonado rarely moves his head on the way in, leaving him more than open to counters. Luckily, the Brazilian is used to the abuse.

Usually, I give a quick description of a fighter's habits and then highlight a skill that would be effective against his upcoming opponent. I had to switch it up a bit for this preview, as Maldonado has one real game plan, which utilizes his sole skill of boxing in close.

The rest of his game is pretty mediocre, so attempting to craft another route to victory for Maldonado would be pointless. Besides, it's not like "The Iron Hillbilly" would ever choose to do something other than brawl anyway.

Hans Stringer

Record: 21-5-3

Key Wins: Francimar Barroso (UFC Fight Night 38)

Key Losses: None

Keys to Victory: Stringer is a fairly well-rounded fighter, though he's not particularly great at any one skill. Training out of the Blackzilians camp in Florida, there's lots of potential for this young fighter to get better.

For the most part, Stringer looks to punch his way into the clinch. Then, he'll transition into a shot or look for a trip. Afterward, Stringer is capable with both his submission game and ground strikes.

That usual strategy would not be advisable against Maldonado, who's more than happy to deliver his trademark body shots with his own back pressed against the fence. Instead, Stringer should look to keep the bout in the center of the Octagon and shoot when Maldonado pressures him.

Off of his back, Maldonado is not a submission threat or excellent scrambler. Therefore, Stringer can be a bit more aggressive with his passes than usual. Once he's in a dominant position, Stringer should pick his shots carefully and then hunt for a submission.

It's very important that Stringer is both conservative with his energy and worked diligently on his conditioning for this bout. There's plenty of cases in which fighters look good against Maldonado early, only to fade away under his constant pressure and body shots.

Stringer does not want to be the next example.

Bottom Line from Brazil: Hardly the most important bout on the card, this fight still determines which direction each man will head from here.

Maldonado's ceiling is quite clearly established. The Brazilian will never be a title contender, but he does have a solid fan base in his home country and produces entertaining fights. With a win, Maldonado will continue to be ranked against middling light heavyweights that will likely result in a slugfest.

Though losing two in a row is usually very risky, Maldonado is likely safe. He did the UFC a huge favor by stepping up a weight class on short notice, and -- as mentioned -- is both fairly popular and exciting. In all likelihood, a loss here simply means Maldonado will face off against a seriously struggling fighter or green newcomer.

When I described Stringer's victory over Barroso as "forgettable," I meant it literally. I had seen the fight when it happened, but did not recognize his name until I started looking up his background for this preview. Forgettable is not a desirable trait for a UFC fighter, so a win here could really help separate the Dutch fighter from the rest of the crowd.

Stringer is new and young enough that a loss wouldn't mean the dreaded pink slip, but it's an awful sign. Quite frankly, fighters that Maldonado defeats are usually not long for the promotion.

At UFC 179, Fabio Maldonado and Hans Stringer will battle it out in front of a raucous Brazilian audience. Who will emerge victorious?

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