When it comes to fighting, there are a worse things to be known as than a “Brazil killer”.
While Rob Font hasn’t earned that moniker just yet, he does seem to have earned the ire of the South American combat sports hub somehow. Font meets top bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao at UFC 226 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, an encounter that will mark his fourth consecutive pairing with a Brazilian fighter.
The 31-year-old Massachusetts native has no idea why the matchmaking has gone this way.
“I don’t know if it’s (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby doesn’t like me or Brazil got it in for me, but definitely I’m fighting all the Brazilians,” Font told MMA Fighting. “It’s Rob Font vs. Brazil.”
The next three bouts were all against Brazilians: A second-round submission of Douglas Silva de Andrade (who entered the bout with a 24-1 record), a first-round submission loss to Pedro Munhoz, and then a sensational second-round knockout of Thomas Almeida in the main card opener of UFC 220 this past January.
Even without a lengthy win streak, Font (15-3) believes his performance against Almeida was enough to convince the UFC officials that he deserved a shot at a top-5 opponent.
“If had went out there and squeaked out a boring decision vs. Almeida, they’d be like, ‘He won, so what?’” said Font. “But you go out there you finish a guy like Almeida, he’s super dangerous, he’s tough, and that makes a statement, so my plan is to go out there and do the same exact thing to Assuncao.”
In the UFC’s official contender rankings, Font is ranked No. 11 while Assuncao sits at No. 3. There was no hesitation from Font’s side when the fight offer came along, but he was a little surprised that his more highly regarded opponent signed on the dotted line.
“Not saying that Assuncao wouldn’t take the fight, but I was surprised that he did take the fight because of the rankings,” said Font. “He probably wants a title shot and all that, so once he said, ‘Yeah’, I was like perfect. He just f**ked up.”
All of Font’s UFC wins have come by way of knockout or submission and if he finishes Assuncao, a fighter who hasn’t been stopped in seven years, it will leave him on the shortlist for a title shot.
He will have to wait for the dust to settle between rivals T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt (Dillashaw defends the bantamweight championship in a rematch with Garbrandt at UFC 227 in August) and possibly deal with another contender like (surprise) Brazilian Marlon Moraes.
But it’s a moot point if he doesn’t get past Assuncao on Saturday.
“I’m not looking past Assuncao, but if I go out there and get my hand raised, I definitely would love to get a title shot,” said Font. “Everybody believes he should be fighting for a title so if I beat the guy that everybody thinks should be fighting for a title, obviously I should be fighting for the title as well.”