TUF BRAZIL 3 FINALE: MIOCIC VS. MALDONADO Date: May 31, 2014 Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil Venue: Ginasio do Ibirapuera Broadcast: FOX Sports 1 UFC Heavyweight Stipe Miocic (-505) A Golden Gloves winner and Division I wrestler, Stipe Miocic (11-1) may be the darkest horse in the UFC heavyweight division. He’s been around the Octagon for nearly 3 years, amassing a 5-1 record that includes the late Shane del Rosario, Gabriel Gonzaga and Roy Nelson amongst his victims, the latter two fights being especially dominant in fashion. Miocic is simply a sound fighter that not enough people know about. He has fantastic wrestling, technical boxing, and knockout power that stuns most fighters. He uses his range well and doesn’t put himself into too much trouble. He was set to take on top-ranked Junior dos Santos originally at the TUF Brazil 3 Finale, but after JDS broke his hand Miocic now takes on Fabio Maldonado in a stay-busy fight that’s a dangerous, yet very winnable fight for the emerging star. UFC Heavyweight Fabio Maldonado (+335) Fabio Maldonado (21-6) is one of the toughest fighters in the UFC — at any weight class. The 34-year-old Brazilian boxer has a cinderblock for a head and a chin made of iron and has proven time and time again he can take a licking and keep on ticking. He is overall 4-3 in the UFC but his record could very well read 6-1 had the judges given him the nod over Kyle Kingsbury and Igor Pokrajac, and if he had that record he would easily be ranked in the top 10 at light heavyweight. But he didn’t get those nods, so he’s been fighting guys in the lower end of the division instead of the elite. However, an injury to Junior dos Santos pushed him out of his fight against Stipe Miocic at the TUF Brazil 3 Finale and Maldonado stepped up on short notice to help save the card. It’ll be his heavyweight debut in the UFC, and it’s a difficult matchup, but it’s one that could be interesting if it goes into deep waters — the kind of fight Maldonado relishes the thought of having. Opening TUF Brazil 3 Finale Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Miocic a -505 favorite (bet $505 to win $100) while Maldonado opened as a +335 underdog (bet $100 to win $335) at Several Bookmakers. This is a strange matchup on paper but it’s one that had to be done after JDS got injured and there were no other heavyweights available to fight Miocic. As far as styles go, although Maldonado is a supreme boxer, Miocic will have a reach advantage over him and should be able to really punish him on the feet and possibly even get a stoppage. But we know how tough Maldonado is, and unless the doctor steps in to stop the fight it’s really hard to see him getting knocked out cleanly. So that makes things interesting, because this is a five-round fight and Maldonado is known for getting stronger as the fight goes on while Miocic tires. But even with that in mind, this really is Miocic’s fight to win or lose and that’s why you see him enter the contest as a strong favorite. Profiles by Jason Nawara.