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Maldonado says fighting Fedor is like playing Michael Jordan: 99% chance he wins

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Brazilian striker Fabio Maldonado weighs in on his fight against MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview with MMAJunkie.com, Brazilian UFC veteran Fabio Maldonado talked about his upcoming fight with PRIDE legend Fedor Emelianenko in Russia this Friday. Maldonado has been handpicked by both the promoter and Emelianenko, and says he couldn't refuse the offer when it came.

"Imagine if you ask a basketball player if they want to play Michael Jordan", Maldonado said. "It's like that for me. I'm fighting the man, a legend of the sport. I'd take that fight on a one-day notice. I'm very happy this fight happened. There's a lot of attention around it and it's a big commitment, but there's a lot of joy and happiness that come with it, too."

Despite all the happiness involved, Maldonado will go into the fight as a the big underdog, although he has allegedly been chosen because he was the most credible contender on the list.

"He's a favorite. Logically, on paper, he's got a 99% chance of winning. But in my heart, it's 50/50", Maldonado said of Fedor. "If the fight goes past the first round, it will be a great one. I have to give it my all to get it past the first round."

Maldonado, a veteran of 11 fights in the UFC, is known for his crisp standup, but also his lack of ground skills. However, the 36-year old feels that he will have to be most cautious while standing up.

"I have better boxing", Maldonado said. "I'm not going to fake humility here and say his boxing is better. Even when I got caught in the past, it was due to my own mistakes, because I knew I had better boxing. So I just can't make a mistake early in the fight. And by mistake I mean being hit hard, not being taken down - which would also be a mistake but a smaller one. I'm aware of his ground and pound, but being knocked down is way worse than being taken down. So I have to start off well. He has one-punch knockout power, so I need to be careful on my feet.

"I expect a close fight", Maldonado continued. "And my concern is on the feet, not on the ground. With (Stipe) Miocic, they were like, "Watch out, he's going to take you down." If he takes me down, the fight goes on. I've been doing jiu-jitsu my entire life. I think Fedor is stronger and faster than I am. But the fight goes on if I'm taken down."

He also spoke about his last UFC fight, a possible return to light heavyweight and his future in MMA, so check the whole thing out. Maldonado and Emelianenko will square off this Friday at Fight Nights 50 in St. Petersburg, Russia.