Raphael Assuncao agrees with Tom Petty. The waiting is the hardest part and he is tired of it.
Assuncao has the longest winning bantamweight streak currently in the UFC, and missed his title shot at UFC 173 in May due to a rib injury. When T.J. Dillashaw stepped in to replace him, he dethroned Renan Barao to become the new champion and instead of giving Assuncao the next shot against him, match bookers opted to give Barao a rematch.
Unbeaten in his last 6 fights including a split decision victory over the champion himself in 2013, Assuncao takes on Bryan Caraway at UFC Fight Night 54 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Oct. 4, and is already looking ahead.
“This fight is really important for me, and I’m taking it very seriously,” Assuncao told MMAFighting.com. “Some people think I’m taking him lightly because it’s not a title fight, but I’m extremely focused. I know Caraway is a good fighter, but I’m already thinking ahead. Everything I do is planned. I’m not underestimating Caraway. I’m already making plans, but I’m focused on this guy.”
Assuncao is also bitter abut the fact that virtual unknown Joe Soto was called upon to replace Barao at UFC 177 after the former champ couldn’t make weight.
“To begin with, that should have been my fight. The UFC knows that, everybody knows that,” Assuncao said. “I’m not getting any younger, so this is my time. I’m feeling physically better, more mature, so things are getting together.
“I give Joe Soto some credit for taking the fight, but he didn’t do anything in the fight,” he continued. “He was throwing some overhands, but not doing much. He had no planned attacks, no game plan. With all due respect to Joe Soto, he took the fight on short notice, but he didn’t do anything at all.”
The Brazilian says that Dillashaw’s game has remained the same from when he beat him last year.
“T.J. did (against Soto) exactly what he did against Barao and me. He hasn’t changed a bit in his game,” he said. “Maybe he has a better cardio now, changed his movement a bit, but it’s the same thing in terms of fighting.”
“It really bothers me,” Assuncao said of seeing a guy he beat 11 months ago hold the UFC title. “It bothers me, and he keeps talking a lot. I think he wants to give himself some confidence by talking. He made fun of Barao, too. He was disrespectful, but it won’t work against me.”
The fighter says he won’t accept any other fights after Caraway until he gets a title shot.
“I will let the UFC know that I won’t accept any other fight but a title fight after I beat Caraway. I’m not interested in any other fight, and I won’t fight anyone else.”
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts, Raphael Assuncao