It has not been an easy ride for bantamweight veteran Raphael Assunção lately. Not only did the Brazilian lose his last three outings, but he also reveals to have been dealing with mental issues throughout those times. Now paired up against prospect Ricky Simón at UFC Vegas 45, the 39-year-old claims to be feeling healthier and more motivated to win.
In an interview with Combate, Assunção detailed how his mindset prevented him from winning all of his previous outings. Curiously enough, Raphael says he was able to deal with the issue without seeking any professional help and trusts he will not feel any more mental problems against Simón on Saturday.
“It was like depression,” Assunção said. “You don’t think you have it, but you do. You think you’re all right, but you’re really not. In my last three fights, the mental aspect was the issue. Against Marlon, I had a mental breakdown. I couldn’t find myself. It was the main event, those things happen at that high, professional level. Against Sandhagen, I was staying at different gyms and I felt something physical. He’s tall, he’s hard to hit, he’s a tough guy. Against Garbrandt, it was mental. I was feeling well, I never missed weight. My mental health was just going down. Maybe because of how long my career is. You start to feel tired and maybe I thought I didn’t have anything else to learn, since I had already been around the corner, It doesn’t work like that.”
“I’m not doing any psychological treatment,” Raphael said. “I’m finding myself again. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, nothing professional. Part of my psychological motivation stems from the physical aspect. I still feel well physically. It’s natural, I’ve been natural all my life. I never needed any inadequate supplements. The UFC helps me with my diet and supplements. Right after my surgery (in his left biceps), I never thought I’d fight again. But I’m physically blessed. The psychological part just needs to keep up with it.”
Now paired up against a grappler 10 years his junior, Raphael claims to feel ready for the challenge. Although age might play a factor, Assuncao feels ready for anything Ricky may bring. Furthermore, the Brazilian believes experience could give him an edge over his opponent, too.
“His style is similar to Urijah Faber’s,” Assunção said. “He’s a fast guy, but I’ve been training for more than what he lets on, so expectations play in my favor. I don’t want to expect him to be slow and then he shows up like an electric little animal. He’s small, short, with good wrestling. He works well with his hands. He’s pretty well-rounded. I have to use my experience. Physically, I feel fine. I want to impose my gameplan and win in any way necessary. Winning is all that matters.”
Currently on a three-fight losing skid, Assunção (27-8) lost to Cody Garbrandt, Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Moraes in his previous outing. Before that, the 39-year-old was on a four-fight winning streak, with victories over Rob Font, Matthew Lopez, Marlon Moraes and Aljamain Sterling.
Now, Assunção is expected to take on Simón at UFC Vegas 45, on December 18, at the UFC Apex, in Las Vegas. The card is set to be headlined by a heavyweight bout between contender Derrick Lewis and rising prospect Chris Daukaus.