Brazilian light heavyweight fighter Fabio Maldonado is confirmed to replace #2 ranked heavyweight Junior Dos Santos, fighting Stipe Miocic in a five round heavyweight main event at the TUF Brazil 3 Finale on May 31. UFC Brazil confirmed the news on Tuesday, with the UFC offering fans a full refund on the event due to the alteration.
After announcing his intentions to drop down to middleweight in the past, though the move never came to fruition, Maldonado will instead move up in weight to heavyweight and fight #7 ranked Croat Stipe Miocic in arguably the biggest fight of his career. After winning three in a row including a recent decision win over Gian Villante, the Brazilian will likely be one-and-done at heavyweight, though a win over Miocic could be huge for the unranked light heavyweight.
For those unfamiliar, Fabio Maldonado is the same fighter who stepped up on just a few weeks notice to face recent title contender Glover Teixeira, and almost knocked Glover out in a second round stoppage loss. Though Maldonado may seem an unlikely and surprising choice to fill in, the late notice nature along with the lack of appeal for a Brazil fight card to host a main event featuring two non-Brazilians, makes this one of the most feasible choices available.
In Stipe Miocic, Maldonado will fight a man on a tear as of late. With two wins in a row over ranked heavyweights Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga, the former of which showed the immense improvements of the #7 ranked fighter, Miocic will look to go three in a row and move a step closer to title contention. Though Miocic may not garner too much with a win over Maldonado, especially in comparison to a win over former champion Junior Dos Santos, the fight gives the Croat some more exposure and keeps him active.
The TUF Brazil 3 Finale will be hosted at Ginásio do Ibirapuera in São Paulo, Brazil on May 31.