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Raphael Assuncao willing to wait for title shot instead of fighting Urijah Faber, Renan Barao

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Raphael Assuncao is riding the longest winning streak among active non-UFC champions inside the Octagon, but that might not be enough for him to earn his shot at the bantamweight championship.

Days before Assuncao’s unanimous decision victory over Bryan Caraway at UFC Fight Night 54 in Halifax, Canada, it was announced that former champion Dominick Cruz would be the next in line against 135-pound kingpin T.J. Dillashaw, and the Brazilian kind of expected that.

"I had mixed feelings about this situation because Dominick Cruz had an awesome performance. It was pretty damn perfect," Assuncao told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. "It was hard to kind of match that performance. What could I do, beat the guy in 20 seconds? He (Cruz) finished Mizugaki is 60 seconds or whatever, so what I was supposed to do? So I had mixed feeling going into the fight, knowing that I had to make a statement."

Assuncao couldn’t make a statement by finishing Caraway, and he wasn’t 100 percent happy with his own performance.

"More or less," he said. "Some things went out of my control in order to be perfect, but it was another win. Technically, it was pretty much what I anticipated. I mean, everything I wanted to do defensively and offensively I was able to put it together."

"Caraway was a game opponent," he continued. "And I think I’m experienced enough to know that if a guy is on a win streak, a guy coming from WEC, a high-level guy… He’s fought, and he was beating, by the way, Mark Hominick when he was fighting him in one of the tapes I was studying. And he was actually beating Mark Hominick, and Hominick gave Jose Aldo his toughest fight. All that aside, I think I was able to do everything I wanted to do."

Undefeated since cutting down to 135 pounds, Assuncao was the last man to defeat the current champion, scoring a split decision over Dillashaw in 2013. He also holds wins over the likes of Pedro Munhoz, Mike Easton, Vaughan Lee and Johnny Eduardo, but he still sees room for improvement.

"It’s hard to go back to the drawing board when you’re winning. You have to be humble and intelligent enough, you gotta to surround yourself with good people, even though you’re on a roll, you gotta go back to the drawing board," he said. "That keeps me motivated. I have a lot to work. I could very well be cocky and be like ‘ok, I’m on a seven-fight win streak,’ but I don’t feel that way. I have a lot to improve and that’s kind of where and see myself and my career right now."

Assuncao is willing to sit and wait for his shot at the winner of Dillashaw vs. Cruz, but he might need to fight one more time.

A rematch with former WEC champion Urijah Faber, who submitted him in 2010 in a featherweight bout, or a clash with former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao could be interesting options, but he’s not sold on the idea.

"I think that right now I should be sitting back and waiting for a better opportunity," he said. "Urijah had his chance (for the title) four of five times, but I can’t deny the fact that if it makes sense, so be it. I‘ll see what happens. Urijah is a tough fight, I would love to revenge a loss, (but) I think I’m just a little ahead of that rematch right now. It was so long ago. He had his chance (for the title) and lost. I think I’m more in position of a contendership status right now, instead of taking rematches."

"Those are great fights," he said of a fight against Barao, "but I just feel right now I can save myself a little bit and be in contendership that’s my best bet right now."

Dillashaw defeating Cruz would be better for Assuncao’s title aspirations, as that could avoid potential an immediate rematch and bouts that would be more interesting for the promotion, like Cruz vs. Barao or Faber. However, that’s not the outcome Assuncao expects for the next 135-pound UFC title fight.

"I have to go with Dominick," he said. "It’s going to completely change (the bantamweight division). Dominick wins again, and what happens? That’s why MMA is fun. It changes from water to wine pretty quickly."

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