by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of Raphael Assuncao)

Raphael Assuncao, ranked as the No. 9 featherweight fighter in the world, has been very successful to this point in his career, all without the backing of a major fight promotion. That is something that should change as he heads into 2009.

Assuncao says that he’s in the midst of negotiations that would land him on the biggest stage of his 12-1 professional career in the coming year.

“2009 is going to be a year that everything is going to fall in place for me,” he told MMAWeekly.com recently.

He was one of many fighters that had been contracted to the American Fight League. With the promotion currently struggling to move forward, Assuncao finds himself in a position to redirect his career.

“I am released from the AFL. I’m a free agent right now,” he said, before adding, “I haven’t signed a deal yet, but I’m talking with Bellator and WEC.”

Bellator Fighting Championships is currently putting its roster together for its programming on ESPN Deportes. Bellator has plans for a program that is part fight show and part reality series for ESPN’s Spanish language channel.

World Extreme Cagefighting, of course, is the sister promotion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The WEC has continued to expand its offerings since being purchased by Zuffa, LLC in late 2006, and can currently be seen on the Versus network.

Either option is a leap forward in Assuncao’s career, giving him the exposure he needs to land better fights and bigger paydays.

Tired of being promised more than what is eventually delivered, he is also mired in the search for consistent management, another facet of his career that he plans to have straightened out in 2009.

“Right now, I’m just like at a point in my career where I’m working to see who’s going to be my manager and things like that. I’m shopping for the best management, the best organization,” stated Assuncao.

“I’m very excited for 2009.”