After an unsuccessful first stint in the UFC, Junior Assuncao (13-4) has revamped his mixed martial arts career since losing to The Ultimate Fighter Season 5 winner Nate Diaz. Since the loss to Diaz, the Brazilian fought on the regional circuit, amassing a record of 6-1, finishing three of his seven fights via submission.
At UFC 135, a new refocused and more experienced Assuncao entered the Octagon. The Brazilian fought a strategic fight against Eddie Yagin to earn a unanimous decision victory. Although the win was good, the Brazilian isn’t looking to be just another UFC fighter.
“The first time I fought in the UFC, I was just happy to be there,” Assuncao told MMAWeekly Radio.
“Some guys, when they get to the UFC for the first time, they just want to ride that image as much as they can and get injured there so they can pull out of the fight. I’ve already been to the UFC. I want to fight.
“A week after my fight (against Yagin), I was already begging for another fight. I was like, ‘come on man, let me get back in there because I got to get another one back in there so I can get myself on the map.’ In order to be in the rankings and be in the contendership picture, I need to fight.”
Back in October, Assuncao called out Pearson via twitter and Pearson quickly responded. The UFC brass wasted no time and announced the fight shortly after the two featherweights exchanged words. Assuncao wasn’t looking to stir up any trouble; he just wanted to fight someone dangerous and well respected.
With his eyes towards the future, Assuncao didn’t want just any opponent the UFC brass would hand him. The 30-year-old wanted to step up against top names in the sport and put his career on the line, so that he may one day be a contender in the featherweight division.
“This UFC run that I’m doing now, I want to be a champion. When I saw that Ross Pearson went down, I had a name of a guy to fight, (but) it was a no-name guy pretty much. He was in the UFC, but the guy wasn’t known. I saw that Ross came down. I got nothing personal with the guy. He’s legit, he comes forward, and he should match my style well.
“I’m not just in the UFC to ride the image of the UFC. I want to be a champion and he’s looking to fight. In my mindset, this will be a high-risk fight. I’m aware of that, but I’m aware of what it can give me. It’s a high risk fight, but the reward will be worth it.”