Maldonado, who was scheduled to welcome "Rampage" back to the Octagon in the co-main event of UFC 186 in Montreal on April 25, now meets Steve Bosse, a Montreal native who returns from retirement for his first UFC bout.
"I wanted to fight ‘Rampage’," Maldonado told MMAFighting.com. "I’ve been waiting to fight him for 12 years, but I’m not thinking about it anymore. I only think about Steve Bosse now. That’s my focus right now."
The change of opponents didn’t take any motivation away from the Brazilian striker, who won his last four light heavyweight fights in the UFC.
"I will always be excited to fight because I have a goal. I know it’s hard, but it’s not impossible. My goal is to be the UFC champion," he said. "I have my kids to feed and I want to give them the best, so I will always be hungry to fight. I probably had the best camp of my life. I’m always motivated. I have a new challenge ahead."
Maldonado doesn’t expect an easy fight, but admits he needed Google to remind him who Bosse was.
"I watched his fight with Houston Alexander, but I didn’t remember exactly that was him when I heard the name," he said. "He knocks people out. He has eight knockouts in 10 wins, so he has his chances of winning and I can’t underestimate him. ‘Rampage’ was a bigger name and a win over him would be better, of course, but Steve Bosse is a great opponent."
Bosse was originally slated to make his UFC debut a year ago, but announced his retirement after suffering a shoulder injury. "The Boss" only fought once since his win over Alexander on Oct. 7, 2011, and Maldonado isn’t sure what to expect.
"I’ve watched his fight, but he might have changed his style," Maldonado said. "He hasn’t fought in 20 months. He could have changed his style a lot, so I’m expecting everything, even takedowns. I will keep it standing and go to war, that’s for sure."
After taking so many hits, the UFC has received some criticism about the quality of the card in Montreal. Maldonado promises to do his part to make it worth, though.
"My idea is to open him up, cut his face and everything else. I want to beat him up. I don’t wish him anything bad, but I want to beat him a lot," he said. "Fans will watch that old Maldonado. Hands down, asking for my opponent to punch. Punch and get punched. It’s going to be fun. There will be a lot of blood in Montreal. It’s going to be an exciting fight. I guarantee you that I’m going to a stand-up war."