Moraes is booked to face Assuncao on February 2nd, at the UFC’s upcoming card in Fortaleza, Brazil. As the bout approaches, Moraes is coming off wins over John Dodson, Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera. The latter two were via first round, knockout.
Assuncao, on the other hand, has won four straight, and most recently he earned a decision win over Rob Font. As a result of his latest winning streak, the perennial contender is now 9-1 in his last 10 fights.
Well, recently Moraes spoke with MMA Junkie, and while doing so, the former WSOF champ had this to say about his upcoming bout with Assuncao.
“The moment that the champion decided to go down a division, there should be a title fight,” Moraes said, while referring to the fact that current bantamweight champ, TJ Dillashaw, is moving down to challenge flyweight champ, Henry Cejudo on January 19th. “Because, usually, champions – both in boxing and in the UFC – they go to the division above to challenge themselves, and not the lower one. I think, since you’re fighting someone smaller than you, it’s a smaller challenge. So I don’t think you’re looking to challenge yourself.
“So I think the interim belt should have come in the picture and I think both Raphael and I would be the main names to be in that fight. It’s a rematch between two guys who are living the best moments of the division. Both of us are coming off 11 wins in 12 fights. I’m coming off good fights – knockouts against top guys. I think it would make total sense.”
Does it make sense? Most people likely agree it’s generally more of a challenge when a fighter moves up a weight class than when they drop down (assuming the weight cut doesn’t diminish their abilities too much of course). For example, if Cejudo was moving up to face Dillashaw at 135, and then defeated him to secure the bantamweight crowd, his stock would skyrocket. There’s also no denying that Assuncao and Moraes both have solid cases for a title shot (Assuncao, it should be noted, is 1-1 with Dillashaw).
But, considering Dillashaw defended the title this past August by taking out Cody Garbrandt, and that the expectation is he’ll return to 135 to defend the belt, there’s no real need for an interim title fight.