Raphael Assuncao not one for 'fancy stuff,' but thinks consistency warrants UFC title shot


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NORFOLK, Va. – Back in June, Raphael Assuncao vowed to keep campaigning for a title shot. Two fights – and two wins – later, he’s making good on his promise.

On Saturday at UFC Fight Night 120, Assuncao (26-5 MMA, 10-2 UFC) beat up-and-comer Matthew Lopez (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) to earn a third straight win. Not only that – for what was his first knockout win since 2012, the Brazilian bantamweight also took home a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus.

It certainly wasn’t a bad day at the office for Assuncao. But as he’d already made clear while still up in the octagon, he’s (yet again) hoping to gain something else from his most recent win: a title shot.

Allow him to elaborate.

“If you look at everybody I’ve beaten, everything I’ve done in the octagon – if you look at me and (UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw’s) history, why not, you know?” Assuncao told MMAjunkie after the FS1-televised main-card bout, which took place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. “I think I deserve it. My only loss in bantamweight was (to) T.J. I lost to him in 2015. I turned around/ I won all my fights against top level guys, against up-and-comers, you name it.

“And here I am again. So we’ve got to do this trilogy.”

Assuncao does have point in that he and Dillashaw, who just recently reclaimed the 135-pound crown with a UFC 217 knockout of Cody Garbrandt, have a score to settle. The first time they met, in 2013, Assuncao walked away with a split call from a tight “Fight of the Night” affair. Then, at last year’s UFC 200 event, Assuncao returned from a long layoff to lose a clear unanimous decision.

Assuncao has since snagged three consecutive wins. Before the knockout of Lopez, Assuncao put an end to ex-WSOF-champ Marlon Moraes’ 13-fight streak and added a second straight loss to contender Aljamain Sterling’s record. Both wins came via split decision.

Still, there are roadblocks to Assuncao’s title path. After his win over Garbrandt, Dillashaw made it clear that he’d like to finally make that bout with flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson happen. Not to mention former 135-pound champ Dominick Cruz and contender Jimmie Rivera, who were supposed to meet each other in what had the makings of a title-eliminator bout before Cruz had to pull out.

Assuncao is currently No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings. Garbrandt and Cruz are immediately below Dillashaw, as No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, while Rivera appears just below Assuncao at No. 5.

Even if it doesn’t happen now, though, Assuncao believes his long-awaited attempt to claim gold is only a matter of time.

“Look – I’m not the type of fighter who’ll get up there and do backflips and fancy stuff,” Assuncao said. “But I’m very consistent. I show up, I make weight, and I do my job. I don’t talk. I don’t do anything. I have fun. I treat people well.

“I’m a martial artist. And a title shot will come.”

To hear from Assuncao, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 120 results: Raphael Assuncao chops down, lays out Matthew Lopez

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Raphael Assuncao (26-5 MMA, 10-2 UFC) is sometimes criticized for a lack of exciting fights. Matthew Lopez (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) won’t be one of those critics.

Assuncao battered Lopez for the opening two rounds of their matchup before laying him out cold in the third.

The catchweight bout (Lopez missed the bantamweight limit) was part of the main card of today’s UFC Fight Night 120 event at Ted Constant Convocation Center on the Old Dominion University campus in Norfolk, Va. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Assuncao took the center to start, and both men looked comfortable exchanging strikes to start. Both men were swinging hard in the early exchanges, though it appeared Assuncao was getting the best of the work. Neither man looked for a takedown until the final minute, when Lopez wrapped the body and successfully took the action to the floor. However, Assuncao worked quickly back to his feet and landed a knee as they broke away.

Lopez pressed a bit to open, but Assuncao avoided well and landed a nice right hand behind the ear, as well as a snapping low kick to the thigh. Lopez tried to move in and out of range, creating angles, but Assuncao’s slapping inside leg kicks started to take a toll. Lopez tried to score a few kicks of his own, but Assuncao was sharp with counters in both his punches up top and more of those chopping shots to the leg.

Assuncao went immediately back to his opponent’s bruised thigh to start the third. Lopez tried to make something happen, but the Assuncao shots continue to buckle his opponent’s legs. A flying knee missed, but as Lopez looked to slip, Assuncao landed a right hand on the button that sent his opponent crashing to the floor. Assuncao followed but pulled his follow-up with Lopez out cold.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 120 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s Matt Erickson contributed to this report on site in Norfolk.)

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Source: MMA Junkie

Ahead of UFC Fight Night 120, Marlon Moraes reflects on 1st loss in almost 6 years

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When bantamweight Marlon Moraes enters the UFC octagon on Saturday, it’ll be under circumstances he hasn’t experience in quite some time: He’ll be coming off a loss.

By dropping a split decision to bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao (25-5 MMA, 9-2 UFC) in his octagon debut at UFC 212, Moraes (18-5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) also halted a winning streak that dated back to 2011. All but two of the 13 wins in that timeframe took place with his former WSOF home, where Moraes defended the bantamweight title five times before signing with the UFC.

Moraes is now fully focused on his next battle: a UFC Fight 120 bantamweight meeting with former 125-pound title challenger John Dodson (19-8 MMA, 8-3 UFC). But as present-driven as he is, it’s hard to completely dismiss the past.

“It does affect your ego a little bit,” Moraes told MMAjunkie ahead of the FS1-televised preliminary-card bout, which takes place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va . “I want to get back out there soon, come back strong.

“(I want to) win this fight well and do everything I know. I think it’s another way to motivate me and to push me to go to my limit.”

Moraes was certainly given no easy task to start off his UFC run. Fellow Brazilian Assuncao, who was just coming off a win over tough up-and-comer Aljamain Sterling, is a perennial contender who at one point rode an impressive seven-fight UFC winning streak that included a win over current champ T.J. Dillashaw.

Prior to his loss to Dillashaw in a UFC 200 rematch, Assuncao hadn’t tasted defeat since Erick Koch knocked him out in 2011.

Still, the No. 7 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings believes he could have done better against No. 4 Assuncao.

“Honestly, Raphael is a fighter who’s a top-three, top-five fighter in the UFC,” Moraes said. “But I had every intention to beat him. It was a very tight fight. It was a split decision that, honestly, was kind of controversial. But it wasn’t my best night.”

There’s a bright side there, though.

“If I could do that on a bad night,” Moraes pondered, “on a good night, I can certainly go up against anyone in the division.”

It’s with the same bittersweet approach that Moraes reflects upon his first setback in years. Sure, losing isn’t great – especially when you believe you could have done more to keep it from happening. But count on Moraes to, once more, offer a silver lining.

“Normally, in life, it’s very hard to deal with failure,” Moraes said. “And a loss – I failed. I didn’t win. But, mainly, because it wasn’t a great performance. When you fight and lose, but you give it everything you have, there’s that sense of fulfilled duty. But to me, it intensified a bit because that wasn’t the best Marlon you’ve seen inside the cage.

“It was hard at first. But it’s good, because it’d been a while since I’d lost. It’d been a while since I felt who was really with me and who wasn’t. And a time like this shows those who really are with you.”

In any case, Moraes is ready to move on. Which, of course, starts with Dodson. The recipe for a winning performance isn’t exactly mysterious: At the gym, Moraes put in the hours and the work. And, in the cage, it’s about pressure, moving forward and setting the pace.

“I’m an athlete who likes to fight in every area,” Moraes said. “And I hope to leave it in all there. It will be a well-rounded fight. You won’t see Marlon  shying away from the striking, from wrestling or jiu-jitsu. It will be an aggressive Marlon who’ll attack in every area.

“I’m prepared and I’m going to give it my all in pursuit of this win.”

While a 0-1 start to a UFC career isn’t ideal, it’s not like Moraes is just anyone in the bantamweight shuffle. He was, after all, a highly victorious champion. And, currently occupying the No. 9 spot in the UFC’s official rankings, it’s safe to say a win over No. 8 Dodson could award him some goodwill with the promotion.

But the former WSOF kingpin didn’t come into the UFC to start handpicking opponents. And neither is he willing to let future possibilities distract him from what is happening right now.

“My main focus is this fight – this win,” Moraes said. “To get in there and do the best fight of my life. That’s it and nothing else.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Report: Sage Northcutt to make 2017 debut at UFC Fight Night 120 vs. Michel Quinones

Will Sage Northcutt finally fight in 2017 at November’s UFC Fight Night 120? That’s the plan as of right now.

ESPN.com reported today that Northcutt (8-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) has been booked to face Michel Quinones (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC)in a lightweight bout on Nov. 11 at UFC Fight Night 120. The event takes place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., and airs on FS1.

It’s been a long road back to the octagon for Northcutt, who’s dropped two of his past three bouts. Most recently he was submitted by Mickey Gall at UFC on FOX 22 in December.

Originally, Northcutt hoped to return at UFC 211 in his native Texas, but that plan fell through when he underwent surgery to have his tonsils removed. Northcutt was booked to fight in July at UFC 214, though injuries during training camp to both Northcutt and opponent John Makdessi forced the cancellation of the bout.

Still considered a highly touted prospect despite his recent struggles, Northcutt hopes to finally fight for the first time this year – and at 155 pounds. His two losses have come at welterweight.

In Quinones, Northcutt faces an opponent coming off a TKO loss to Jared Gordon in his UFC debut in June at UFC Fight Night 112. Prior to that, Quinones was on a five-fight winning streak.

Additionally, bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao has been booked to fight Matthew Lopez on the card.

Assuncao (25-5 MMA, 9-2 UFC), No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, has won nine of his last 10 bouts and seeks his third consecutive victory. Lopez (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) carries his own two-fight winning streak into the contest.

The latest UFC Fight Night 120 card includes:

  • Anthony Pettis vs. Dustin Poirier
  • Matt Brown vs. Diego Sanchez
  • Nina Ansaroff vs. Angela Hill
  • Cezar Ferreira vs. Nate Marquardt
  • Karl Roberson vs. Darren Stewart
  • Jake Collier vs. Marcel Fortuna
  • Junior Albini vs. Andrei Arlovski
  • Court McGee vs. Sean Strickland
  • Clay Guida vs. Joe Lauzon
  • Viviane Pereira vs. Tatiana Suarez
  • John Dodson vs. Marlon Moraes
  • Sage Northcutt vs. Michel Quinones
  • Raphael Assuncao vs. Matthew Lopez

For more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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You're damn right: If Raphael Assuncao wins at UFC 212, he's not shutting up about a title shot

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Two times – two timesRaphael Assuncao had a contract in hand to fight for a title. If he wins at Saturday’s UFC 212 event, he’s going to make sure the third time’s a charm.

Assuncao (24-5 MMA, 8-2 UFC), whose title hopes were ultimately spoiled due to injuries, meets former WSOF bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes (18-4-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the featured preliminary-card bout at UFC 212. It airs on FS1 prior to the pay-per-view main card at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

Assuncao is No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, and Moraes is No. 6.

If Assuncao gets the win – he’s currently a small underdog at the sports books – he said he expects to get a title shot. Again.

“In an opponent like Marlon, a former world champion, yup, that’s what I’m expecting,” he told MMAjunkie. “Definitely. That’s what I’m hoping for.

“I’ll campaign for it. Don’t worry, guys. I’ll be vocal and campaign for it.”

The usually mild-mannered Assuncao plans to speak up and push for what he feels he deserves. After all, the 34-year-old Brazilian is on an 8-1 run; the lone loss came to former champion T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC). With current titleholder Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) sidelined due to a back injury – Dillashaw possibly moving down a division to fight flyweight dominant champ Demetrious Johnson – the bantamweight title picture is wide open. Assuncao just doesn’t want to see another opportunity fizzle.

“I’d love to have my chance to fight for the belt,” Assuncao said. “It didn’t happen in the past due to injuries. But all those injuries have fully healed now. Everything is cool. I take a lot of care not to overtrain. I’m feeling great.”

He just hopes that good health continues.

“I’ve had two chances with contracts in my hand, and I couldn’t sign the contracts because I had injuries – some pretty bad injuries,” he said. “But a win over a guy like (Moraes), that’ll definitely qualify me again.”

Moraes may not be established in the UFC, but with WSOF, where he ran his current winning streak to 13, the 29-year-old became one of the highest-ranked fighters outside of the UFC. So even though he’s not listed in the current and official UFC rankings, Assuncao knows this could be a quality and vital victory.

“A (UFC-)ranked opponent might have been better, but I campaigned to face (ex-champ) Dominick Cruz, and he didn’t want to take me up on it – only if for the belt,” he said. “So when the possibility of fighting Marlon was presented, I accepted.

“There is a contrast of styles. He’s more of a striker, and my background is jiu-jitsu. That’s fine. It will be a good fight. Of course, we as MMA professionals train in every facet, and we’ll be trying to impose our game.

“Even though Marlon is not ranked in the UFC, hardcore fans know who he is. Considering his resume, a win over him would further raise my stock in the UFC.”

Check out the full conversation above.

And for more on UFC 212, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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