It’s easy to forget about Raphael Assuncao (25-5); he’s fought only three times since October 2014. In that time, the UFC forgot about every bantamweight other than Dominick Cruz, TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt. But don’t sleep on Assuncao, this dude is solid.
Except for Urijah Faber and Erik Koch in each of their primes, no one has rolled over Assuncao.
On the feet, he’s economical with his striking. He’s not a stalwart defensively, but his offense is so measured that it’s very difficult to find openings. This is a guy who fought TJ Dillashaw to a decision twice and won the first meeting. He has heavy hands but doesn’t throw haymakers like many other hard punchers. Instead, he keeps his combinations fluid and easy like the Diaz brothers while letting his natural power show through in glimpses. His wrestling and submission game is the same; competent everywhere but spectacular nowhere.
He’s most vulnerable to high activity fighters who excel in one area or another, which leads to him getting outpointed.
Seeing the spate of “TKO via Punches” paired with the submissions on his record, you’d be forgiven for thinking Matthew Lopez (10-1) is a ground and pound fighter. In fact, he’s an absolute banger on the feet who hurts his opponents before finishing them on the ground. He’ll wrestle occasionally, but most of the time it’s assisted by some cranial cobwebs.
He’s not a balanced striker; most of his offense is coming from his fists. But he has great power, and his habit of weaving low and using odd angles (mostly) compensates for this. As a southpaw, he has a fantastic lunging lead hook, a punch which caught and finished the previously indomitable Joanna Jędrzejczyk (albeit from the orthodox stance). If his opponent gets to the fence before he falls, he’ll go in for the surprise double leg and drag them down. He’s very good in scrambles too.
The only fighter who beat him was Rani Yahya, who matched him on the feet and ground and eventually came away with a choke. Lopez started tiring in the second round, so it appears he’s the type of predator who’s not used to his lunch fighting back.
Lopez hits too hard not to have a shot, but this is also the exact match in which Assuncao flourishes. Covering up, throwing opportunistic counters and takedown attempts. He’s tougher than Rani Yahya but not as athletic, so expect a decision win.
Assuncao via Decision
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