Assuncao gets nod over Dillashaw

TJ Dillashaw punches Rafael Assuncao
Rafael Assuncao won a razor-thin split decision over TJ Dillashaw.
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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.


There was a lot of talk heading into UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Shields about bantamweight prospect TJ Dillashaw, who carried the weight of a 14 fight win streak for his camp at Team Alpha Male into the Octagon on Wednesday night, but veteran competitor Raphael Assuncao had other ideas about letting them see No. 15.

A former lightweight and featherweight contender, Assuncao has seen all sides of the fight game and he came face to face with adversity in the early going against Dillashaw, who put the pressure on and tried to finish the fight in the first round.

Dillashaw used his quickness and wrestling ability to snag a takedown, and eventually landed on Assuncao's back looking for the rear naked choke. Eventually, the Sacramento based fighter settled for a neck crank instead and with Assuncao grimacing in pain, it looked like he might get the finish.

Assuncao wasn't about to go down in his home country of Brazil, so he willed his way out of the hold and made it to the end of the round. In the second, Assuncao came storming out of the gates with a crisp striking attack and perfect timing.

Each time Assuncao lept forward he was met with punches from Assuncao — one of which left his nose bleeding like a busted faucet. As the fight wore on, both competitors started to slow down a bit, but Assuncao's ability to land his strikes, which previous to this fight he was only hitting at 44.8-percent accuracy, eventually made all the difference.

As close as any fight in recent memory, the judges returned two scorecards in favor of Assuncao at 29-28 giving him the win, with the third official scoring it 29-28 for Dillashaw.

Remaining undefeated at bantamweight with a perfect 5-0 record, Assuncao now moves into title contention with his victory over Dillashaw. He could very easily score a match with the winner of the upcoming fight between Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald at UFC on Fox: Pettis vs. Thomson with the victor getting that elusive title shot in 2014.

The loss drops Dillashaw to 9-2 in his young career, but will serve as a valuable lesson for what it takes to jump into the deep end of the top ten of the division.

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