Fabio Maldonado lost a disputed majority decision to former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Fedor Emelianenko at Eurasia Fight Nights 50 on June 17 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He had the Russian legend reeling in the first round, but his inability to execute a finish proved costly when the scorecards were read, this despite that fact that most observers believed Maldonado at the very least deserved a draw.
Maldonado recently appeared on the Brazilian cable program “Revista Combate” to discuss his controversial bout with Emelianenko, his desire to someday return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship and other pertinent topics. Here are some of the highlights:
On the importance of bleeding in fights: “Bleeding is very important for my performance. Maybe the fights I lost would have been different had I started to bleed sooner. Fedor woke me up at the beginning of round one when he hit me in the nose with a cross, and I started to turn the round around.”
On his strategy against Emelianenko: “My plan was to dirty box with him. I wanted to brawl with crosses on the fence. He’s much faster than I am, so I wanted to put him on the fence and exchange crosses. If I allowed him to fight in the middle, he could use his speed advantage to take me down.”
On the judges’ decision: “Of course, I’ve seen many fights get stopped for less than what I did to Fedor, but I can’t complain about the referee. Fedor was well-trained, and because of that, he recovered between rounds. The only thing I questioned was when the referee stopped the fight at the worst time to give Fedor his mouthpiece back, and of course, it helped him recover. Still, I should have finished the fight. I also got tired in the second round, and that wasn’t the judges’ fault.”
On his preparation for Emelianenko: “My main concern before the fight was not getting hurt. I knew it would be the fight of my life. I knew I couldn’t get hurt. I have to admit that I trained less for this than I did for my 11 UFC fights because I couldn’t lose the opportunity to fight Fedor.
On Sylvester Stallone and Emelianenko: “I told the Russian media after the fight that one of my few regrets in life was not having a photo with Sylvester Stallone and Fedor on my Instagram. I took a photo with Stallone when he came to Brazil, but my jiu-jitsu trainer lost it ... s---! I was able to accomplish the other part of it in an unforgettable manner: publishing a photo with my idol by my side, with our faces damaged after such a great battle. The result doesn’t matter. It was the happiest day of my life.”
On the possibility of a rematch: “There have been negotiations. For me, it would be an honor to fight him again. As I said, fighting him was like playing basketball with Michael Jordan.”
On training with American Top Team: “I used to say that American Top Team was like a Disneyland for the fighter, but if you get too excited and play around at all, you get hurt, so you have to be careful. They have the best sparring partners there, and I love to train with everybody. There’s only one guy that I don’t train with -- actually, I run the other way -- and that’s Steve Mocco. My God, that guy is a beast. He beat Cain Velasquez six times [in college]. The other day, someone brought in an Olympic champion to train there and Mocco also toyed with that guy, so I got more self-confident. It wasn’t just me. He does that with everybody.”
On his May 2014 loss to current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic: “He’s a great fighter. I expected him to beat Werdum, and I said that before their fight in Curitiba. Miocic is also one of the most humble guys I’ve ever met. After he knocked me out in Sao Paulo, he apologized for what he’d done to me in front of my fans. I can assure you that what happened in our first fight -- me getting knocked out in the first round -- would never happen again. Of course, there’s no reason to put a guy who’s coming off three losses against the champion, but I’d face him tomorrow for the same purse I got in 2014. It’s about honor. I really would love to face him again.”
On a possible return to the UFC: “I was expecting the promotion to give me a call when it needed someone, especially when you consider how many times I stepped up on short notice to save a card. I think there are hard feelings for me because I had such a bad fight with [Quinton] ‘Rampage’ [Jackson]. They gave me the fight I wanted, and I disappointed them. Actually, I was really disappointed, too. He played my game, and I couldn’t fight.”
On offers he has received: “I’m really impressed with the audience that saw the fight against Fedor. From all over the world, people came to congratulate me on social media. I got a couple offers afterward, not only in MMA but also in boxing. Actually, I got an offer to fight in kickboxing in Italy, and I also challenged the [former] heavyweight champion of Bellator and the boxer Nikolai Valuev. Of course, our boxing careers don’t compare. Still, my career in MMA had no comparison to Fedor’s, and I had a great fight with him. Let’s see if the promoters like my idea. I’m open to anything except jiu-jitsu and any striking style where kicks are allowed. The rest of the promoters can count on me. The fact is that I have four children to feed.”