Heading into UFC 226, Raphael Assuncao has won three straight fights and is 10-1 over his last 11.
Assuncao can make his claim to being the next bantamweight title contender with a dominating performance over Rob Font Saturday night from inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The lone loss for the 35-year-old during his recent hot run came in 2016 via decision to current division champion TJ Dillashaw. Dillashaw is set to defend his belt vs. Cody Garbrandt next month, and Assuncao will have a front-row seat to the fight.
Should he take care of Font.
While Font might not carry a top ranking with him, he is a very tough out. Coming off a second round TKO vs. Thomas Almeida, Font is 15-3 in his career overall, including a 5-2 mark over his last seven.
He’s faced off against the likes of Pedro Munhoz, John Lineker and Matt Schnell since signing with the UFC after winning the CES MMA featherweight title. Twice his bouts have earned him “Performance of the Night” honors, with both of those coming in victories over George Roop and Douglas Silva de Andrade.
Assuncao, though, is a different beast.
He knocked out Matthew Lopez this past November following hard-earned split decision wins vs. former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes and Aljamain Sterling. Assuncao went the full three rounds with Dillashaw before coming up short, but he had scored wins over Bryan Caraway, Munhoz, Vaughan Lee, Mike Easton, Issei Tamura and Johnny Eduardo during his run, along with a split decision vs. Dillashaw.
Holding a win over the current champion – or even the guy that just dropped the belt should Garbrandt earn a win – will hold a lot of weight in regards to who challenges next.
As long as Assuncao takes care of business.
UFC 226 takes place Saturday night live on pay-per-view with Stipe Miocic defending his heavyweight title vs. Daniel Cormier in the main event.