Poor Fabio Maldonado. He took a big step up in competition and weight, and what did it get him?
A concussion, that's what!
Now, after getting some momentum for the first time in his UFC career, he is smacked down into the middle of the pack. The question for him is, what's next? That's where we come in—to look over potential opponents for the Brazilian power puncher.
So whom could we see him face next in the Octagon?
Nikita Krylov may be next, as well as any given random light heavyweight who has obvious skills but hasn't actually been around that long. There are a bunch of them.
Speaking of Krylov in particular, he is a powerful striker who had a fair degree of success as a heavyweight on the European circuit. He is a Ukrainian Master of Sports in karate, and locking him in a cage with Maldonado would almost certainly translate to a fun striking chess match.
Or two dudes wildly punching each other in the face...either way.
Krylov fought in March and is set to face off with Cody Donovan at UFC Fight Night 46. Win or lose, "The Al Capone" would make a solid opponent for Maldonado.
Poland has some seriously strong grapplers floating around the combat sports scene. The best in mixed martial arts might be Jan Blachowicz.
Who do you want to see Maldonado face next?
He was one of the hottest names in Poland's Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW) promotion. He has amassed a 17-3 record thus far and owns wins over UFC veterans Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Goran Reljic, Mario Miranda and Houston Alexander. He also once beat former Bellator light heavyweight champ Christian M'Pumbu.
The 31-year-old was first signed by the UFC back in January, and it's unclear why he hasn't been linked to an opponent yet. The UFC might be planning to save him for its show in Lodz, Poland later this year, or he could be injured. Either way, Maldonado would be a solid first opponent for him.
Some Random Tomato Can
No, not Bob Sapp, obviously! He just happens to be MMA's most identifiable tomato can.
But look, the UFC is openly putting together squash matches at this point. Are you Demian Maia, Donald Cerrone, Chad Mendes or some other guy that the promotion likes? Then whatever—it will throw you an easy win if you ever find yourself in need of one.
Maldonado is a guy who did the UFC a favor and is moderately popular in Brazil. That has "fight with a promotional newcomer" written all over it these days. Or he could face some dude with a losing UFC record like Francimar Barroso, Sean O'Connell or Anthony Perosh if he loses to Gian Villante.
Either way, it's disappointingly probable we'll see him fight some random dude we've never heard of in his next outing, because the UFC will be overtly helping him.