As fans are looking at the Ultimate Fighter Finale main event showdown between Anthony Pettis and Clay Guida, there is another interesting fight on the card between rising light heavyweights Kyle Kingsbury and Fabio Maldonado.
Kingsbury has been involved with the UFC since his time on TUF Season 8 where he lost to the eventual winner Ryan Bader in a qualifying match. After an injury which let him return to the show, he then went on to lose a matchup against Krzysztof Soszynski.
Kingsbury had a tough run at that point in his career because he lost to Tony Lopez prior to TUF and lost to Tom Lawlor on TUF Finale, which had him on a four-fight losing streak.
Kingsbury has turned around his career by going on to win three straight matches while under the UFC banner, including his most dominant win against submission specialist Ricardo Romero which took only 21 seconds to finish.
Fabio Maldonado comes into this fight after taking out James McSweeney by way of TKO in his debut match for the UFC. That matchup with McSweeney showed he can take some serious punishment and that he has exceptional power in his hands. Maldonado has won 16 out of his last 17 fights as a MMA fighter and is currently riding an 11-fight win streak.
The real story here is how both of these fighters are progressing their all-around skills with their fight camps. Kingsbury trains with Ryan Bader, Aaron Simpson and C.B. Dolloway at Power MMA. Kingsbury also trains with AKA fighters Cain Velasquez, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck while Maldonado is trained by the Nogueira brothers in Brazil.
The fight should stylistically be in favor of Kyle Kingsbury. Kingsbury should, in theory, be able to score takedowns on the former Brazilian boxer and keep him on the mat where Maldonado will be far less fearsome.
If he cannot secure takedowns or if he doesn't possess the top control needed to keep Maldonado down, Kingsbury could find himself in a lot of trouble against the stand-up skills of Maldonado. If he is forced to stand and trade, Kingsbury would be wise to work a lot of leg kicks in to try and nullify the power behind Maldonado's punches.
It will be no secret that Maldonado wants to keep this fight on the feet because that is where he is at his best. He also showcased a very good chin against McSweeney when he took a lot of punishment in the opening round and eventually won by TKO in Round 3.
He has also ended 12 fights by some form of knockout as his background as a boxer is his greatest strength as a fighter. As a boxer, Maldonado had a boxing record or 22-0 with 21 knockouts. The Brazilian also accomplished this while boxing a total of 43 rounds, which is less than 2 rounds per fight.
The downside, though, is that Maldonado does not possess good overall skill set, as he lacks in both takedown defense and submission skills when he fights inside the cage. With that being said, there won't be much threat of kicks from Maldonado either.
This fight could be exciting or lackluster, depending on how much they both have improved as fighters. It could be Kingsbury taking advantage of a weak ground game or a standing war which Maldonado should be favored in.
This is an important matchup for both fighters not only for rankings, but to showcase their skills to the UFC brass as they continue to try and climb the light heavyweight ladder.