UFC

Dillashaw looking past Assuncao

TJ Dillashaw is quickly rising through the ranks on his way to the top of the bantamweight...
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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T.J. Dillashaw is in the final stages of his training for a UFC Fight Night matchup with Raphael Assuncao, and apparently he’s quite confident of a positive outcome. So confident in fact, that he’s looking ahead to other options.

The two top 10 bantamweights seem to be an evenly matched pairing going into the bout. Dillashaw is ranked No. 9 while Assuncao is four slots ahead at No. 4, but that’s not stopping Dillashaw from designing a grand plan.

With Team Alpha Male getting a veritable home game at UFC On FOX 9 in Sacramento, Dillashaw wants in on the action.

“I want to run through Rafael and get thrown into that card,” he said during a recent Google+ Hangout with FOX Sports. “Go get a quick victory in Brazil and head back and get put into that Sacramento card.”

If he does, he’ll join three teammates already occupying slots on the Dec. 14 show at the Sleep Train Arena. Urijah Faber is set for a major scrap with rising bantamweight star Michael McDonald, Chad Mendes is paired up with Nik Lentz, and Danny Castillo will face Edson Barboza.

Dillashaw joined the UFC with just about one year of pro fight experience, losing in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter season 14, but has since rebounded to win four straight, including consecutive knockouts of Hugo Viana and Issei Tamura.

That’s been part of an amazing team run that has corresponded with the addition of former UFC fighter Duane “Bang” Ludwig as Alpha Male’s head coach. In the team’s last 11 UFC bouts, they’re 11-0 with eight finishes. It’s no wonder then that Dillashaw has such grand plans for the next few months.

“I’ve never been more confident than I am now,” he said.

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