Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Fabio Maldonado will have his chance to regain mixed martial arts (MMA) notoriety when he steps inside of the cage with Fedor Emelianenko on June 17 at a Rizin Fighting Federation event in St. Petersburg, Germay.
Maldonado, 36, compiled a 5-6 record while with the UFC from 2010-2015, losing to notable MMA names like current UFC Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson, and 205-pound top contender Glover Teixeira. The Brazilian was well known for his crushing body shots and ability to absorb damage like few fighters we've ever seen before.
Despite mediocre success dating back to an 11-fight win streak from 2007-2010, Maldonado believes he may have what it takes to upset arguably the greatest heavyweight fighter in MMA history.
"Fedor is good everywhere," said Maldonado in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. "The fight starts standing and I can’t enter the ring thinking about not getting taken down and eat two punches and lose like against Miocic. I have to pay attention. I have to be patient in this fight. The biggest difficulty in this fight is Fedor’s speed and explosion. The idea is to catch him when he’s coming. But I won’t wait for Fedor to come, I will attack him as well."
Emelianenko, 39, is 1-0 since making his return to the cage opposite Singh Jaideep at Rizin Fighting Federation II after nearly three years away from the sport.
"It was hard to believe at first," added Maldonado. "The fight was done and my life went on normally. A few days later, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought ‘man, I’m fighting Fedor. That’s crazy’. It’s like being a basketball and playing against Michael Jordan. You’re facing the best of all times. Life is a big Ferris wheel, you never know what’s going to happen. The only thing I promise the fans is that I will fight with all my heart against Fedor."
If Maldonado is able to defeat "The Last Emperor" in devastating fashion he may very well work his way back into the UFC fold.