A key battle of surging bantamweights is part of this week’s UFC Fight Night 29 event in Brazil. Top-10 fighters T.J. Dillashaw and Raphael Assuncao will be putting their respective four fight winning streaks on the line in the hopes of emerging as a future title challenger in the 135 pound weight division.
Dillashaw is riding the surge of what’s been tremendous success of late for members of Team Alpha Male. He has a standout wrestling base and he’s one of the many fighters in that camp who’ve benefited from the tutelage of striking coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig. Dillashaw registered a first round TKO victory over Hugo Viana in his last effort at UFC on FOX 7. It marked his third straight finish. Dillashaw has six wins in his eight career victories by knockout or submission. His lone loss was against John Dodson in the final of the Ultimate Fighter 14.
Assuncao was triumphant against Vaughan Lee by second round submission in his last Octagon appearance. The Brazilian veteran decided to move down in weight after a knockout loss to top-10 featherweight Erik Koch at UFC 128, and it has paid off in a major way. Besides the Lee win, Assuncao has also defeated Mike Easton, Issei Tamura and Johnny Eduardo. Assuncao has recorded nine of his 19 career wins via submission. It would be quite an accomplishment if he was able to finish Dillashaw as “The Viper” has never been submitted.
Assuncao will be most comfortable if this matchup gets to the ground, but Dillashaw’s strong grappling skills will make that a difficult challenge. Dillashaw has the clear advantage if he’s able to control the tempo and keep it as a standup affair.
It shapes up as a fight that will have huge implications in the bantamweight division. The result of this matchup will leave the winner riding a five fight win streak and likely propel him into a major fight moving forward.
Once the title situation is finally sorted out between champions Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz, there will be a short list of future title challengers. The winner at UFC Fight Night 29 between Assuncao and Dillashaw will find themselves on that list.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports