It’s been almost four years since Junior Assuncao last stepped foot in the UFC Octagon.
Following a 1-2 record with the promotion, Assuncao was released from the UFC and moved on to other endeavors before getting the call to come back at UFC 135 and face Eddie Yagin.
Looking back on his first turn with the UFC, Assuncao doesn’t even recognize the fighter he was back then and readily admits that when he fought Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 64, it probably was too much, too soon.
“I was only 4-1 when I fought Kurt Pellegrino. I only had one amateur fight. I really didn’t know how to fight. I really didn’t know how to live the life, if that makes sense. The diet and the lifestyle, it’s something that comes along with the career. I was able to make those kinds of adjustments throughout those years,” Assuncao told MMAWeekly Radio.
“I think if I could go back, maybe I think it was a little premature to fight in the UFC the first time. You think going in I didn’t really care if I win or lose, I was just talking about fighting in the UFC.”
The excitement of being in the UFC overshadowed the fact that to stay in the UFC Assuncao had to win fights. Since his exit, Assuncao has worked tirelessly to make sure he earned his way back with impressive wins and a new killer instinct.
Since the last time he fought for the UFC, Assuncao went 7-1 with his only loss considered a very close decision. Add with that some age and maturity and the Brazilian believes that now it’s really his time to shine.
“I’m 30 years old now so a bit more mature, definitely I was able to understand fighting a little bit better,” Assuncao commented. “After I fought Nate, I did like nine fights and only lost a bad decision. I think I finally figured out how to fight. To compete at this high level you can’t get away with certain things that I used to do back in the past like having a regular job and just eating whatever, you know, just the general stuff.”
A newer, more confident and well prepared Junior Assuncao returns to the UFC in September with a mindset that he believes will carry him to victory.
“Now it’s a totally different mindset. Now I refuse to lose,” said Assuncao. “I haven’t lost in a long time, and I don’t plan on losing. Now it’s like I’m taking care of business. I’m going to go to put some people out.”
He’ll get his first chance on Sept. 24 when he takes on Eddie Yagin at UFC 135.