Fabio Maldonado doesn’t have anything scheduled in UFC, but it doesn’t prevent him from training hard in Salvador, Bahia, along with tough guys like Junior dos Santos and the Nogueira brothers, all athletes will bouts schedules for the next weeks.
On an interview given to TATAME, Maldonado analyzed the trainings and the bouts, betting on knockouts of Junior and Rodrigo. “It ain’t easy taking Frank Mir down, everybody knows that, but, the way I see it, Rodrigo will knock him out”, bets Fabio, talking about his return to the cage: “I want to hurt, smash the Americans”.:
How are the training in Salvador?
Rodrigo and Rogerio are doing great, but they’re not training that hard yet. They’re doing fine, but they can do better. They’re not giving everything they’ve got because it’s too soon and they can get overtrained.
What are you focusing the trainings on? Are you trying to help Dos Santos better now?
In my case, yes. Rodrigo and Rogerio have bouts set, so they gotta worry about them. They’re doing a great preparation. Rodrigo is doing some work on the pool with Dr. Angela too... It’s nice. Dos Santos is on the final sprint. Now he’s doing his best, he’s on that period on which you get sick of training so much (laughs).
How is Junior doing?
He’s doing great. For a sparring training with him you gotta have three guys fighting at the same time against him (laughs). Dorea brought Cleisson Mamute, who’s a guy I fought against once in MMA and he was four-time Brazilian champion of amateus Boxing. Mamute does like one or two rounds against Junior, then the American (Josh Janousek, wrestler) does another one and I go and we train for four rounds. Dos Santos is fantastic. Of course there’s no perfect training. How would you compare me to Cain Velasquez? Cain Velasquez is like ten times better on takedowns than me, but Junior is doing amazing on the takedown defenses. We believe that, even if Cain takes him down, Junior will be prepared to stand-up again and bang. He plays it well against me on the stand-up, and I’m much better than Cain Velasquez on the stand-up, I know how to dodge better and how to punch better. He’s more explosive and stronger than me, but my came on the stand-up is much better, so we’re trying to adjust it.
What is your bid for this bout?
Well, I’m a Cain Velasquez fan, but I don’t see it going to the judges’ score card. If it’s decided by points, I believe Junior will win. If Cain insists on playing that card and all… They’re both heavyweights, the bests in the world. Junior is a little more experienced, so they’re going for it. I bet Junior with knock him out, but we gotta know there’s a great opponent there. I’d give like 60, 70% of advantage to Dos Santos. And you gotta remember I’m a fan of Cain.
Do you believe Dos Santos is more prepared than Velasquez?
Dos Santos is ready to go. It was excellent his wins over Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson by points, these 30 minutes of fight, 15 each. Absolutely, if they fought for more rounds, it’d be worse for them. These fights gave him the kind of experience he needed to fight Cain Velasquez. Maybe he needed it before becoming a champion.
In December the Nogueira brothers will be fighting on the same night. How are their preparation?
Both of them will smash their opponents. It ain’t easy taking Frank Mir down, everybody knows that, but, the way I see it, Rodrigo will knock him out. It’s not that his game plan is to strike, but and what if he can’t take him down? He ought to fight him on his feet. He’ll knock him out, I’m pretty sure of it.
And about Rogerio? He’s under a lot of pressure entering this fight against Tito Ortiz...
Everybody knows how good Rogerio is, he has nothing to prove. It’s just that he’s coming from two not so good bouts. Even that fight on which he lost to Ryan Bader was a good one. Ryan Bader lost to Tito Ortiz and then beat Rogerio… Since we all know it’s not like that in MMA, I bet Rogerio will win. Rogerio wasn’t focused for that fight, and now he is. Everybody knows that, if they didn’t set a time for the guys to fight in MMA, no one could defeat the Nogueira brothers. I believe he’ll defeat Tito Ortiz. On the stand-up, he’s a better fighter than Tito Ortiz.
And what about you? When you’ll be back in UFC?
I talk to my manager like three times a week. You know I rather spank an American striker. Maybe Quinton Jackson. Despite coming from a loss, he fought the champion. If I could, I’d fight him or Dan Henderson. I can knock them out, I’m sure of it. If I could pick someone... But I can’t. If you wanna be a UFC champ, you can’t pick your opponents. You gotta fight whoever crosses your way. I’ll work so I win. I want to hurt, smash the Americans. In two weeks I believe Alex (Davis) tells me my next opponent.
UFC’s coming back to Brazil. Do you hope to be in this card?
Absolutely, but nothing’s been said about it… If someone gets injured, maybe. Maybe I can fight Rich Frankin, who knows? That guy (Stanislav Nedkov) who defeated (Luis) Cane. I can fight anyone. I fight with five, six weeks in advance. I’m ready. If I fight in Brazil, it’s even better.
By Guilherme Cruz
Photo Guilherme Cruz