Brazilian slugger Fabio Maldonado (20-6 MMA, 3-3 UFC) recently revealed he’s planning on fighting Gian Villante (11-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) at an as-yet-unannounced UFC Fight Night event in Natal, Brazil.
Maldonado announced the matchup on Facebook, posting both the month and the city for the event. Combate.com previously reported the fight card was expected to take place March 23 at Ginasio Nelio Dias in Natal following a post from Twitter user @MMASun. However, UFC execs have yet to make an official announcement. Broadcast plans for the card also have not been revealed.
A heavyweight matchup between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum is expected to headline the card and serve as a No. 1 contender matchup, with the winner facing UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez later this year.
Maldonado currently boasts a two-fight winning streak after earning hard-fought decisions over Joey Beltran and Roger Hollett. The 33-year-old striker, who will celebrate his next birthday one week before the event, had been in desperate need of a victory before his current streak after falling short against Glover Teixeira, Igor Pokrajac and Kyle Kingsbury. Still, his fan-friendly style of standing and trading earned him a reprieve, and Maldonado capitalized on the opportunity.
Meanwhile, Villante is currently best known as a friend and training partner for UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. A former collegiate wrestler and football player, Villante first made his mark on the national MMA scene during a five-fight stint under the Strikeforce banner, opening that run with losses to Lorenz Larkin and Chad Griggs before bouncing back with victories over Derrick Mehmen, Trevor Smith and Keith Berry.
Villante’s UFC debut was marred with a touch of controversy, as an accidental eye poke from Ovince St. Preux ended the fight just 33 seconds into the final frame, and Villante was stuck with a loss via technical decision. However, he bounced back at November’s UFC 167 event, where he earned a TKO win over Cody Donovan.
For more on UFC Fight Night 38, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Fabio Maldonado)