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Due to the functional complexity of its signal-to-interference (SIR) ratio, the outage probability of maximal ratio combining is available only for certain independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.) fading environments. In this paper, we partially relax this restriction by allowing the signal channel-gain vector to follow a general fading distribution with arbitrary spatial correlation. The problem is tackled in a novel framework. The key step is to represent the probability density of the reciprocal of the SIR, conditioned on the signal vector, as the higher order derivative of a simple exponential function in signal power, whereby a generic formula for outage probability can be determined. The application of the generic formula to Rayleigh, Rician, and Nakagami faded signals is elaborated. Numerical results are also presented for illustration.