Although Fabio Maldonado's five year run in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ended in 2015 following back-to-back losses to "Rampage" Jackson and Corey Anderson, the popular Brazilian fighter is scheduled to make his promotional debut with XFC International on March 19.
The "Iron Hillbilly" compiled a 5-6 record in the major leagues with notable wins over Hans Stringer, Joey Beltran and Gian Villante, winning fans for his durability and willingness to and stand and bang with the heaviest hitters in UFC.
Maldonado will face Andrew Smith, 15-9, in a heavyweight bout, although it's unknown whether that will be the main event. Both are typically light heavyweights, but Smith moved on short notice up in September 2015 to face Pedro Rizzo. He lost via TKO leg kicks.
"We are very excited about the night of fights to mark our first event of the year", said XFC president Myron Molotky in a press release. "Our matchmakers did a phenomenal job to join the high-level names of the MMA world with some of our main fighters. We also have Fabio Maldonado, whom we've seen and heard good things about, which shows our credibility and strength as a fight promotion."
Also on the card is former UFC and WEC veteran Hermes Franca, who will face Bellator veteran Ricardo Tirloni.
XFC International 14 takes place at the XFC International Center in Sao Paulo (Maldonado's hometown), and also features Daniel Virginio vs. Fernando Vieira for the bantamweight title.
The XFC (Xtreme Fighting Championships) began way back in 2006 with its first event in Florida. It has featured high profile fighters in the past, including Jamie Varner, Marlon Moraes, Drew Fickett, Felice Herrig and others.
Full XFC International 14 fight card:
Daniel Virginio vs. Fernando Vieira
Fabio Maldonado vs. Andrew Smith
Guilherme Faria vs. Genair da Silva
Fernando Rodrigues vs. Tiago Cardoso
Ricardo Tirloni vs. Hermes Franca
Silvana Juarez vs. Julie Werner
Cleiton Pereira vs. Jefferson Rodrigues
Luciano Palhano vs. Ary Santos
Jady Menezes vs. Liana Pirosin
Carol Correia vs. Amanda Torres
Pedro Junior vs. Luiz Cado
Naiara Pereira vs. Priscila Souza