Fabio Maldonado is always ready for a bloody war.
Fresh off a decision victory over Gian Villante, the light heavyweight fighter has agreed to replace former UFC champion Junior dos Santos in a heavyweight clash with Stipe Miocic at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale card on May 31 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
"I just heard about it," Maldonado told MMAFighting.com. "My manager Alex [Davis] called me and asked if I would take the fight, and I said ‘let’s do this.’"
It’s going to be Maldonado’s first fight as a heavyweight in the UFC, but not the first of his MMA career.
"I’m weighting 223 pounds now, so weight is not an issue. The issue is timing," he said. "Miocic is an excellent fighter with a good wrestling and boxing skills. The ideal would be three more weeks of training to prepare myself, but I can’t choose. I take the opportunities they offer me."
"My last fight in Brazil before signing with the UFC was at heavyweight," he said of a 40-second win over Nelson Martins in Brazil. "I fought as a heavyweight some times in Brazil, but I’m way better physically today. I don’t care about those things actually."
Confident that his hands are better than Miocic’s, Maldonado knows it won’t be easy fight.
"I have better boxing at close distance," he said. "I also have better jiu-jitsu, but I don’t want him on top of me because he’s way bigger than me. My ground game is good, but I don’t want to play guard. I think he’s better than Gian Villante in everything."
Moving up to heavyweight with three weeks’ notice in a five-round fight against a top 10 opponent should put Maldonado in the underdog spot against Miocic, but that doesn't stop him from feeling the pressure.
"I also have pressure on me," Maldonado said. "There’s no such thing as just do an exciting fight for the fans. I want to go there and win the fight. I have to beat Miocic. Fans haven’t seen my best yet, so I hope I can show it against Miocic."
"I will try my best (to knock him out)," he continued. "The only thing I promise the fans is that it’s going to be a bloody, violent fight. I can’t promise the win because anything can happen, but I will do my best."