Raphael Assuncao kept his title aspirations alive and extended his winning streak to five fights, as he ground out a close split decision victory over TJ Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 29 from Barueri, Brazil, on Wednesday night.
The judges scored the fight 29-28 Dillashaw, 29-28 Assuncao, and 29-28 Assuncao.
Dillashaw looked to control the center cage position from the onset, letting his hands fly free. The Team Alpha Male fighter was able to land a takedown, but Assuncao returned to his feet straight away. Dillashaw mixed it up with his strikes before shooting in to take the back of Assuncao. Assuncao looked like he may have been in trouble many times, but was able to fight each of them off and eventually he was able to return to his feet.
Assuncao started to show his power in the second frame and tagged Dillashaw. The Brazilian took Dillashaw down, looking for his own submission attempt. Dillashaw regained his feet and shot in for a single leg takedown, and they both traded shots to the bell.
The 27-year-old Californian looked to land a flying kick off the bell in the final round, but Assuncao caught him off balance and almost landed the takedown. Dillashaw again pushed the pace, mixing up his attacks. With blood pouring from above Dillashaw’s right eye, both fighters exchanged blows on the feet with Dillashaw on the front foot, but in two of the judges minds it wasn’t enough for Dillashaw to keep his winning streak intact.
“It was a very tough 15 minutes,” Assuncao said. “I tried to do my best, in the second round my eye got swollen a little bit.”
Before the fight, Assuncao said that he saw the Dillashaw fight as a semi-final in the bantamweight division and hinted he should get the winner of Michael McDonald vs. Urijah Faber, who square off at UFC on Fox 9 in December.
“I considered this to be a semi-final, but there’s another semi-final in Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald,” Assuncao continued. “Much respect to the real champion, in my opinion, who is Renan Barao, but also respect Dominick (Cruz) who is injured, but we’ll see what happens.”
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