Maybe Marlon Moraes had a classic case of the UFC Jitters on Saturday night.
Or maybe it’s just tough for any opponent to look good against an opponent as formidable as Raphael Assuncao.
Assuncao shut down the former longtime World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion on Saturday night at UFC 212. In an otherwise evenly matched tactical fight, Assuncao landed the hardest shots, and that was enough to get the decision in a battle of U.S.-based Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro.
The crafty veteran took a split decision on scores of 29-28, 28-29, and 30-27 for his ninth victory in his past 10 fights.
“It was a big challenge for me,” Assuncao (26-5) said. “He’s a very good guy, he’s a world champion, he’s just coming into the UFC.”
Moraes (18-5-1) showed off a speed advantage in the early going and was fairly active throwing kicks. But Assuncao wasn’t fazed, and in an otherwise tight round, he connected on to big right hands in the closing seconds, which likely made the difference in the scoring.
From there, Moraes never seemed able to find a Plan B. His pace slowed, and Assuncao continued to effectively stay out of range and counter when called up. After a flash knockdown from a big right to the temple early in the third briefly dropped Moraes, Assuncao pretty much cruised the rest of the way
Moraes had a 13-fight win streak snapped.