LAS VEGAS -- In a bantamweight division with no clear-cut challenger to champion Renan Barao, Raphael Assuncao is beginning to state his case.
The Brazilian veteran has now won six straight fights since dropping to 135 pounds. The latest came in a unanimous-decision victory over a game Pedro Munhoz on Saturday night at UFC 170. The judges' scores at Mandalay Bay were 30-27 across the board.
Munhoz is a Black House fighter and the former RFA bantamweight champ. Having defended the RFA title four weeks ago, he took this bout on short notice after Francisco Rivera had to drop out due to injury.
Munhoz was game in hanging in for the duration while facing a major jump in competition. But Assuncao was simply on another level. He landed early and often with his strikes, particularly with sharp combos to the head, leaving Munhoz with a swollen right eye by the time the fight was over.
The underdog Munhoz is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, and his highlight of the fight was when he trapped Assuncao with a heel hook in the second round after Assuncao took him to the mat.
But it wasn't enough, as Assuncao continued to pick him apart with his sharp striking.
The 31-year-old Assuncao improved to 22-4 on his career; Munhoz dropped to 10-1.