by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As the hours tick away, Urijah Faber and Raphael Assuncao now know that they are not only headed for a tough fight against each other on Sunday night in Sacramento, Calif., but also a fight that will likely determine the next contender to WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
“We’ve definitely had that discussion,” said WEC general manager Reed Harris on Tuesday. “Ultimately Sean Shelby, our matchmaker, will make that decision, and we always like to wait until after the fight. But I’ll be honest with you guys, we’ve had that discussion over the last week.”
It only makes sense considering that the top four fighters in the division are in the WEC. Aldo obviously holds the top spot, while the man he recently defeated for the title and who holds two victories over Faber, Mike Brown, is nestled in right behind him. Faber holds the No. 3 spot in the Top 10, with Assuncao nipping at his heels at No. 4.
Faber and Assuncao certainly believe the winner of their bout becoming the number one contender makes sense.
“It’s up to the guys at the WEC, but I’d assume, yeah, this is the one to get us in there for the belt,” said Faber.
“I fought my way through. Urijah’s got his credentials. I think that solidifies the number one spot for the next challenge for the belt,” added Assuncao.
Harris doesn’t disagree, saying, “I think that’s something that we’ll look forward to doing. Depending upon who wins this fight, I think we’ll make that fight (the winner of Faber vs. Assuncao challenging Aldo).”
Faber was quick to add, however, that he’s not skipping ahead to a title shot, though it’s entrenched in his mind. He’s well aware that Assuncao earned his ranking and isn’t to be considered a pushover.
“I don’t want to get too excited about fighting Aldo yet, I’ve got another hard-headed Brazilian to try and throw around. We’ll see how that goes. I’m expecting a great performance and hopefully have the belt midway through 2010.”