Raphael Assuncao: I deserve to fight for the title against T.J. Dillashaw


Raphael Assuncao was supposed to fight Renan Barao at UFC 173, but he couldn’t take the fight because of a rib injury. T.J. Dillashaw replaced the challenger and shocked the world with a fifth-round TKO over Barao to become the new UFC bantamweight champion.

A rematch could be next for Dillashaw, but not against Barao.

Assuncao, who defeated the Alpha Male talent seven months ago via split decision at UFC Fight Night 29 in Barueri, Brazil, wants his shot at the gold.

"I hope they give me the title shot," Assuncao told MMAFighting.com. "I want to fight T.J. Dillashaw next. He said he deserved to win the first fight, so it’s the perfect finale."

Assuncao, who was in Las Vegas for UFC 173, wasn’t promised a shot at the new champion by UFC president Dana White or matchmaker Sean Shelby.

"They didn’t say anything concrete yet, but said it’s a possibility," Assuncao said.

White didn’t rule out giving Barao an immediate rematch, but Assuncao doesn’t think he deserves one.

"T.J. dominated him for five rounds and even got the TKO in the end," he said. "I will never demerit Barao, but I deserve to fight (for the title). My fight with T.J. was way more competitive."

The way Dillashaw beat Barao surprised Assuncao, but he wasn’t impressed by anything he did Saturday night.

"I think he insisted more in his strategy, but he basically did what he did against me," he said. "I guess he was better prepared, evolved in the physical aspect, but he didn’t change his strategy. I was surprised he beat Barao, but not shocked.

"He needs to change his strategy because it won’t work against me and he knows that. It’s a fight and anything can happen, and that’s why MMA is so exciting."

While he waits for an official word from the UFC, Assuncao, who is 5-0 since cutting down to 135 pounds, targets August or September for his return to the Octagon.

"I will be 100 percent recovered and ready to start a camp in four weeks," he said. "I’m already training, but I’ll be able to start a training camp in four weeks."

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