Raphael Assuncao could campaign for fights with fellow bantamweight contenders Urijah Faber and Renan Barao, but it sounds like the surging fighter is leaning towards waiting on the sidelines for a title shot.
Assuncao extended his winning streak to seven this weekend by decisioning Bryan Caraway, but thanks to the victorious return of Dominick Cruz at UFC 178, the Brazilian fighter won’t face champ TJ Dillashaw next. Yes, even though he defeated the latter by split decision last October.
The #4 ranked bantamweight appeared on the latest edition of “The MMA Hour” this week, and Assuncao relayed the following about his immediate future (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“I think that right now I should be sitting back and waiting for a better opportunity,” the 32 year-old said. “Urijah had his chance (for the title) four of five times, but I can’t deny the fact that if it makes sense, so be it. I‘ll see what happens. Urijah is a tough fight, I would love to revenge a loss, (but) I think I’m just a little ahead of that rematch right now. It was so long ago. He had his chance (for the title) and lost. I think I’m more in position of a contendership status right now, instead of taking rematches.”
“Those are great fights,” Assuncao furthered about Barao, “but I just feel right now I can save myself a little bit and be in contendership that’s my best bet right now.”
Assuncao and Faber fought before in 2010, when the two were competing in the WEC as featherweights. Faber won the fight with a third round, rear-naked-choke. A rematch with Faber would almost certainly be a fight the UFC could move tickets with, but Assuncao doesn’t sound interested. Likewise for a fight with the former champ Barao.
One can understand why Assuncao is reluctant to put his title shot on the line, as after all, he does hold a win over Dillashaw, but the UFC may not agree with his logic here. Since Barao was tapped for an immediate rematch with the champ initially, before the UFC 177 fiasco, he can’t be far off from a title shot either.
In other words, Assuncao could be passed over by another contender if he waits on the sidelines. Then again, if he fights in the interim and loses, well…