Just a few days removed from Renan Barao defending his undisputed UFC bantamweight title against Urijah Faber, an important top 10 bout with title aspirations likely on the line is now off of UFC 170. Francisco Rivera broke his hand and is out of his fight against Raphael Assuncao, news that Assuncao tweeted earlier today. In an interview with MMA Fighting, Assuncao said he wanted to go directly into a title fight with Barao:
"I want my shot against Barao," Assuncao told MMAFighting.com. "I'm the only undefeated bantamweight that hasn't fought for the title yet. I'm the No. 3 in the division. I'll ask the boss for this fight.
Assuncao (21-4) pretty much has the best case for a title shot right now. Bantamweight is not a strong division blossoming with contenders, and Assuncao's last fight was a FOTN thrilling win over the T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 29. He is a virtual lock to receive the next shot at Barao, and is 5-0 in the division after his sole featherweight fight in the UFC ended with Erik Koch flattening him.
Who else can challenge Barao right now? Takeya Mizugaki's best win is either Erik Perez or Bryan Caraway. Dillashaw could conceivably get the next crack, but he already lost to Assuncao and I'm not sure he currently has what it takes to make that a competitive fight. As Assuncao stated, Wineland, McDonald, and Faber already lost to him (and all were finished), while Dominick Cruz remains sidelined.
I side with Raphael Assuncao in this case. Even though he was scheduled for a non-title bout, he's done enough -- given who Barao has beaten as well as the current divisional landscape -- to make the next 135 lbs championship an all-Brazilian affair.
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