In mixed martial arts, reputations are earned, not given, and Fabio Maldonado has certainly earned his inside the Octagon.
The scrappy Brazilian has proven to be as game as they come under the UFC banner, as he's consistently put his heart, grit and determination on display on fight night. In addition to his physical durability and mental toughness, Maldonado's in-your-face style has the potential to overwhelm the opposition and create openings for the former boxer to open up shop in a multitude of fashions.
That formula has been successfully repeated as of late, as the 34-year-old Team Nogueira fighter's hand has been raised in three consecutive outings.
While Maldonado's toughness has never come into question, he will face a much different task this Saturday night when he steps up into the heavyweight division to face Stipe Miocic at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale in Sao Paulo. Where Maldonado previously competed at heavyweight earlier in his career, his tilt against the surging Cleveland native will mark his first venture into the heavyweight fold under the UFC banner.
And if Maldonado has his way, his fight with Miocic won't be his final showing in the weight class.
Maldonado is looking forward to mixing it up with the Ohio-based fighter, but there are a few other potential heavyweight matchups he would love to be a part of.
"I have always been asking my manager Alex Davis for fights against the likes of Pat Barry, Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt," Maldonado told Bleacher Report with the assistance of a translator. "I have fought other heavyweights before, and this is not a problem for me.
"It's not just the style but the challenge. I really like the challenge to fight Miocic. I'm a man and I don't back down from any challenges. I will fight anyone in the heavyweight or light heavyweight divisions in the UFC."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.