This weekend, the UFC finalized a big time bantamweight matchup for February 27th. Sherdog was first to report that the ninth ranked bantamweight contender, Raphael Assuncao (27-8), and rising contender, Raoni Barcelos (16-1).
We haven’t seen Assuncao since UFC 250 when he welcomed Cody Garbrandt back. That night, Assuncao was having some success, but he ended up being the victim of a highlight reel knockout at the end of the second round.
That was the third straight loss in the UFC for Assuncao. Assuncao is in a very weird spot in his career. He’s always been that contender in the UFC’s bantamweight division that’s gotten one fight away from a title shot.
He’s done it multiple times. However, when he’s arrived at the title eliminator, he’s come up short. In 2016, he fell to TJ Dillashaw after having won seven fights in a row. In 2019 he lost to Marlon Moraes after winning four in a row including wins over Aljamain Sterling, Rob Font, and Moraes.
The 38 year old veteran might be on the UFC chopping block in this next one. If he drops his fourth straight, there is no guarantees with his roster spot. He definitely hasn’t looked like the same Raphael Assuncao as of late.
UFC Bantamweight’s Rising Contender
Standing across from Assuncao on February 27th will be Raoni Barcelos. Barcelos is one of the more hyped prospects in the UFC’s bantamweight division. I’m calling him a prospect despite the fact that he’s 33 years old.
Barcelos made his UFC debut back in 2018 and he’s gone 5-0 since joining the promotion. He finished his first three opponents and he’s looked sensational in his last two fights. While winning decisions over Said Nurmagomedov and Khalid Taha, Barcelos put on a show.
He possesses a very well-rounded game and he’s showing that he can be a force in the division. If he’s able to pickup the win on February 27th, he will likely vault straight into the UFC’s top ten at bantamweight.