by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
He may be the most underrated Top 10 featherweight in the sport right now, but Raphael Assuncao knows that everything he’s done up till now has earned him the shot against Urijah Faber this Sunday night at WEC 46: Varner vs. Henderson in Sacramento, Calif. He also knows with one more win he will get a shot against champion Jose Aldo and the WEC 145-pound divisional title.
Going 2-0 since making his move to the WEC, Assuncao has finally gotten the big fight he was gunning for since moving to the promotion. It’s an opportunity he doesn’t intend on wasting.
“It’s all about the challenge,” Assuncao told MMAWeekly Radio about the opportunity to face Faber. “I won my first fight over a solid guy, then they offered me my second fight against Jabouin, one of St. Pierre’s kids. Every fight has to be a challenge, you push yourself and you challenge yourself, and I felt good right when they offered it.”
Assuncao has nothing but respect for his opponent this Sunday night, but he also understands that he can only respect him so much before he has to throw down the gauntlet and make his presence be known.
“He deserves his status because he works hard and he’s a great fighter,” Assuncao commented. “I respect the guy so much and I think he has respect for me too, but the business that we’re in, we’re going to go in there to fight. We’re going to try to break each other’s game and come out on top.”
Of course the stylistic match-up is a tough one to pick apart as both Assuncao and Faber are extremely well rounded, but the Brazilian born fighter refuses to believe the “California Kid” can take him out of his game in their fight.
“I’m not going to let anybody take me out of my game,” he stated. “Regardless of how fast he moves, I’m not going to be taken out of my game. I’m going to maintain my pace. I’m going to maintain my game.”
The path to the top has to go through the best fighters, and Assuncao is ready to test himself against Faber, and then against Aldo.
“I’ve put in the work. I’m getting experience,” said Assuncao. “I fought to be where I’m at. I fought my way through. I’m still fighting my way through.”