BARUERI, Brazil – Although a knee injury hampered his training for a fight against Joey Beltran at UFC Fight Night 29, Fabio Maldonado was in good spirits following a split call.
Good enough spirits, that is, to make a few requests about his next bout. And Maldonado thought none other than Chael Sonnen would make a good opponent for his next UFC appearance.
Or, if Sonnen was unavailable, Australian striker James Te-Huna.
“Of course, it’s serious,” said Maldonado when asked about inklings of his preference on social media. “I would love to fight Chael Sonnen. I would like to fight James Te Huna. James is a great striker, and Chael, a lot of people think he would kill my game, that he would tie me up. But I’m very well-trained.
“It’s hard for you to see my jiu-jitsu, but I can turn it around. I would do well against James, as well.”
Sonnen, of course, is scheduled to meet Rashad Evans at next month’s UFC 167 in Las Vegas, and Te Huna meets Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC Fight Night 33. Maldonado (20-6 MMA, 3-3 UFC) had just fought a hard three rounds, however, so he may not have remembered their schedules.
The Brazilian slugger, who transitioned into MMA after amassing an undefeated record in boxing, faced Beltran (14-9 MMA, 4-6 UFC) on the FOX Sports 1-televised main card of Wednesday’s event, which took place at Jose Correa Arena in Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The final judges’ scorecards were 28-29, 29-28 and 29-28, with two judges awarding the Brazilian Maldonado two of three rounds.
Maldonado, though, mused that the officials were having coffee with their backs turned to the cage.
“I don’t know what the judges think,” he said. “Sometimes if someone holds someone on the cage and you’re dominating, or you take someone’s back, someone’s getting beat up, just like I did against Beltran.
“But when he held me against the cage, I can stay there all day. I don’t know where they think I lost a round. I don’t know if their judges are from wrestling. I’ve been a referee in Brazil in boxing and in MMA also, and I would always let the fight go. MMA is a mix of everything. That’s what goes.”
In fact, Maldonaldo invited Beltran to press him against the cage, he said, in an effort to “play with the judges.”
“I was just trying to tell him that I can have my back against the cage and still knock him out,” Maldonado said. “And I feel like in the center in the octagon, I was in a better position. I could sprawl better. But I expected him to move forward more. I’ve watched his fights, and I’ve seen him be more aggressive. I wanted to be more aggressive so I could counter him. Maybe I could have been more aggressive, but I think I did better than my last fight.”
If Beltran feels like he didn’t do as well as he could, though, Maldonado said they could go around a second time.
“I told him let’s fight again,” he said. “I told him if he feels there’s anything we need to resolve, I would like to fight again. I think it was a style that matched.”
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 29, check out the UFC Events section of the site.