BARUERI, Brazil -- Fabio Maldonado won two consecutive fights in the UFC for the first time after his split decision victory over Joey Beltran at UFC Fight Night 29, and he believes that is enough for him to face a higher-ranked opponent next.
Following his win, Maldonado told the media he would like to enter the cage against Chael Sonnen or James Te Huna, who are scheduled to face Rashad Evans and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua respectively, next in the UFC.
"I would like to fight Chael Sonnen, who I’m a big fan of, or James Te Huna, who is a great striker," Maldonado told the media on Wednesday. "Many people think that Chael Sonnen is a bad match-up for me, that he would take me down, but I believe I could beat him. I believe I can beat him. And against Te Huna, I’m a better striker and I can do well against him."
"I’m far from being a champion, far from the title shot, but I’m getting better," he said. "I could have done better today. (Beltran) was happy just to get beaten. He wasn’t fighting, and he thinks he won? Are you crazy? You did nothing, man. It was not a beat down, but you didn’t win it. Do you think you’re going to knock me out by kneeing my thigh?"
"MMA is a mix of styles, but you can’t score points if you’re holding your opponents close to the fence," he continued. "It’s a mistake from the judges. My only loss in the UFC was to Glover Teixeira. I didn’t lose the other fights. I know I still have a lot to improve, but Glover was the only one who defeated me in the UFC."
After a 15-minute brawl with Beltran, Maldonado revealed he hid a knee injury to fight in Barueri, Sao Paulo.
"I tried to hide it. I even used makeup to hide an injury in my right knee," he said. "My team wanted me to pull off the card, but I wanted to fight here."