Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight bruisers Raphael Assuncao and Matthew Lopez battled last night (Nov. 11, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 120 inside the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
Assuncao has been a top five Bantamweight for quite a while now, an impressive accomplishment considering how talent-rich the 135 lbs. division is. However, he’s had a difficult time securing that elusive title shot and looked to take another step towards the ultimate goal last night.
Lopez is a much newer face inside the Octagon. Nevertheless, he’s risen into the top 15 quickly, and this bout represented a show of faith in his talent. Sadly, Lopez faltered on the first task of making weight, but he hoped to make fans forget that little detail with a dominant win.
The fighters opened with some patience. Assuncao landed early with his favorite counter right hand, but Lopez returned with some nice kicks. Despite his inexperience, Lopez proved a difficult man to hit, doing a nice job of just getting out of the way of his opponent’s offense.
Neither man was too willing to open up in the exchanges, but they nevertheless traded at a decent pace. Lopez scored with a body lock takedown near the end of the round, but the Brazilian scrambled back up quickly.
It was a really competitive round.
Assuncao upped his aggression in the second round, and he began to target Lopez’s lead leg. Repeatedly, Assuncao dug his shin into the inside of Lopez’s lead leg, and it didn’t take long for the wrestler’s movement to grow a bit slower.
To his credit, Lopez responded in kind, firing back with kicks and trying to counter. Both men landed heavy head shots over the course of the second, but Assuncao’s repeated low kicks — and the occasional body shots — helped him pull ahead pretty clearly.
Lopez needed something big heading into the final frame.
Instead, it was Assuncao who found his moment. The Brazilian returned to punting his opponent’s lead leg, but Lopez hung in there in most exchanges. Then, Assuncao exploded into a flying knee that didn’t land, but it sent Lopez into the fence. As Lopez bounced off, Assuncao stepped into a hard right hand that shut his opponent’s lights off instantly.
It was positively violent.
This was just the performance that Assuncao needed. He’s been one of the best for a while now, but he tends to out-point guys. He’s great technically, but producing exciting finishes has never exactly been his strong suit.
Even aside from that, it’s just a quality win. Lopez is a tough prospect who showed his grit, but Assuncao was the sharper man in most exchanges. It looked like he was on his way to a decision victory, but that single right hand earned him his paycheck a few minutes early.
Next up for Assuncao should be a member of the Bantamweight top five. Perhaps he can jump in against Jimmie Rivera since Dominick Cruz suffered another injury?
As for Lopez, this was simply a case of too much, too soon. He had his moments, but Assuncao pulled ahead as the fight wore on. Assuncao is the perfect example of a crafty veteran, and Lopez could not keep up with his opponent’s adjustments.
The bright side is that this is just Lopez’s fourth UFC fight. If he can get his weight back under control, there’s no reason why Lopez can’t put together a couple wins before trying again to break into the top 10.
Last night, Raphael Assuncao scored a big knockout victory over a tough prospect. Who should the veteran face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 120 “Pettis vs. Poirier” results and play-by-play, click HERE!