JARAGUA DO SUL, Brazil – It wasn’t very pretty, but Fabio Maldonado certainly will take it as far as job-savers go.
Maldonado survived an early kick to the groin, then slugged his way past an exhausted Roger Hollett for a unanimous decision to avoid a four-fight losing streak.
The light-heavyweight bout was part of Saturday’s UFC on FX 8 event at Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil. It aired with the FUEL TV prelims ahead of the FX-televised main card.
Hollett looked to land early with a winging right hand that was off the mark. But a minute into the round, Hollett threw a spinning back kick that landed flush on Maldonado’s cup. Maldonado quickly went to the ground, writhing in pain. He was given five minutes to recover, but didn’t use all of them. On the restart, Maldonado tried to get his hands going. But Hollett shot in for a double-leg takedown and got the fight to the canvas. But without much action, the two were stood up after a minute on the ground. And after about a minute of clinch work, again the two were split apart. Hollett planted Maldonado again, but there wasn’t much work done on the ground.
Maldonado backed Hollett up in the second, but Hollett countered with a good combination, then landed a spinning back kick. Maldonado tried to pin Hollett on the fence and work shots to the body. But Hollett reversed it briefly before eating a few jabs from the Brazilian. The two traded back and forth for the remainder of the round, often baiting each other to come forward.
Hollett got a takedown in the third, but Maldonado got back up and continued to rip shots to the body – and again asked Hollett to bring it. It was Maldonado landing the punches, though, and he wobbled Hollett with three minutes left, then kept the pressure on. After the two were split apart late in the round, Hollett appeared to be completely out of gas. Maldonado landed a trip takedown that more than sealed the deal, then got his hand raised.
“This is a very important win,” Maldonado said. “I made some changes in my fight camp. For the first time, I trained in my hometown of Sorocaba (Brazil). I brought the best people, especially Patricio ‘Pitbull’ (Freire), who took charge. I feel very good. I feel like I could have another fight right now. I had a scare with that groin shot, but I chose to take my time and fully recover before returning to the fight.”
“I knew he was a tough guy,” Hollett said. “In the second round, he hit me and I couldn’t really see out of one eye. I should have been more active. I slowed down a bit in the second round, and he just took over.”
Maldonado (19-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) got a crucial win, snapping a three-fight losing a skid. Another loss almost certainly would have cost him his job. Hollett (13-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC) now has dropped two in a row after a unanimous decision loss to Matt Hamill this past September in his UFC debut.
Up-to-the-minute UFC on FX 8 results include:
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John Morgan contributed to this report on-site in Jaragua do Sul.