UFC Fight Night: Assuncao vs. Moraes 2 Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Brazil.

Updated: Jan. 31, 2019 • 10:10 AM ET


Jose Aldo is trying to work his way back to another title shot.

A bantamweight fight with major title implications will take place in Fortaleza, Brazil this Saturday, as No. 3 Raphael Assuncao will face No. 4 Marlon Moraes in a rematch from UFC 212 at UFC Fight Night. Assuncao won the first fight in June 2017 by a narrow split-decision, but it seems that the road to a bantamweight title shot could go through either fighter — for now.

Assuncao (27-5, 11-2 in UFC) has won four straight fights and 11 of his last 12, his last loss coming by unanimous decision to bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw at UFC 200 in 2016. He had previously beaten Dillashaw in 2013 and most recently defeated Rob Font by unanimous decision in July. Despite questioning what else he has to do to earn his first title shot, Assuncao now knows that a second fight with Moraes was the best decision.

“It is just a fight that the UFC wanted to make happen,” Assuncao recently told BJPENN.com. “We tried so hard to get the title shot. Really, the guys could win a fight and jump ahead of me. So we decided to take a fight, instead of sitting around and waiting.”

Including Moraes, Dillashaw and Font, Assuncao has key victories over Aljamain Sterling, Bryan Caraway, Pedro Munhoz and Matthew Lopez. The 36-year-old Brazilian made his UFC debut in 2011, has been a consistent winner at 135 pounds and could earn a title shot in front of his home crowd against a fellow Brazilian this weekend.

Moraes has won three straight fights since losing his UFC debut to Assuncao. The former WSOF bantamweight champion has scored a victory over former flyweight title challenger John Dodson, while also producing highlight reel knockouts of top contenders Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera.

Prior to his UFC debut, Moraes hadn’t lost a fight since 2011 and was a highly touted prospect that MMA purists wanted to see fight in the UFC. He’s one win away from proving that the anticipation for his arrival to the UFC was well-deserved, and possibly a title shot.




Co-main event

Saturday’s co-main event will also have heavy title implications, as No. 2 ranked featherweight Jose Aldo will face rising contender and No. 5 ranked Renato Moicano. The winner of this fight could be the next to challenge featherweight champion Max Holloway for the title.

After losing two straight to Holloway, Aldo rebounded well with a first-round TKO victory over Jeremy Stephens in July. The longtime featherweight champion lost his newly regained title to Holloway at UFC 212 in June 2017 and unsuccessfully challenged Holloway at UFC 218 six months later.

Before originally losing his title to Conor McGregor in 2015, Aldo was on an 18-fight winning streak and is still considered by many to be the best featherweight of all time. Including Stephens, the 32-year-old Brazilian has major victories over Frankie Edgar (twice), Chad Mendes (twice), Ricardo Lamas, Chan Sung Jung, Kenny Florian, Mark Hominick, Urijah Faber and Cub Swanson.

It’s fair to assume that if Aldo wins on Saturday, he’ll be next in line for a title shot. However, the UFC might find it difficult to sell a third fight between him and Holloway, considering Aldo was finished in the first two fights. The former champion can make a major statement with a victory over a younger and dangerous contender, but Aldo has also claimed that fighting for a title might not be his top priority.

“My goal is to fight in Fortaleza, then in May (in Curitiba) and then end it here (in Rio de Janeiro), because I know there’ll be another card here, and they know that,” Aldo said in a recent interview with Portal do Vale Tudo. “There’s no reason for them to give me a title shot. But make no mistake, I’ll make it hard for everyone who steps in front of me, I’ll win all three fights.”

Moicano is 5-1 in the UFC and coming off a first-round submission win over Cub Swanson at UFC 227 in August. The win was his second straight after losing to title challenger Brian Ortega at UFC 214 in 2017 in a fight he was clearly winning before Ortega caught him in a guillotine choke.

Moicano is big for the featherweight division, standing just under six-feet. On paper, he matches up well with champion Holloway, and a victory over Aldo would put Moicano in prime position for a title shot. The 29-year-old Brazilian also believes a win on Saturday will make him a known name in the featherweight division.

“Jose Aldo is a true legend, he is a warrior,” Moicano told BJPENN.com. “He has been in many, many wars in the UFC and beat the best guys in the featherweight division. So, to me, this fight means everything. After I get this win against him, for sure people will know me better. People will know me. This fight, I just have to win this fight. It’s a fight, and I only win.”

The main card will also feature a welterweight fight between Brazilian legend and No. 8 ranked Demian Maia and former Bellator welterweight champion Lyman Good.

The 41-year-old Maia is on a three-fight losing streak, the first of which coming to Tyron Woodley for the title at UFC 214. He’s still the most dangerous grappler in MMA, and a victory over a fighter trying to show that he belongs in the UFC is just what the former title challenger needs.

Good is 2-1 in the UFC and coming off a first-round knockout victory over Ben Saunders at UFC 230 in November. The 33-year-old wants to make the most of his moment on Saturday.

“It is such a high sense of validation, that is what it is,” Good told BJPENN.com. “I’m blessed for the opportunity. I have been doing this for a long time and slowly grinding away and just waiting for my moment, my opportunity to be able to show the world I belong among the top 10.

“I am one of the best, so when I got the news I was ecstatic, I was almost in tears. That is how excited I was for the opportunity. To be given such a high-level fighter and a chance to be top-15, I’m just pumped.”



The rest of the main card

Lightweight bout - Charles Oliveira vs. David Teymur

Light heavyweight bout - Johnny Walker vs. Justin Ledet

Women's strawweight bout - Livinha Souza vs. Sarah Frota


ESPN+ Prelims

Middleweight bout - Markus Perez vs. Anthony Hernandez

Women's flyweight bout - No. 12 Mara Romero Borella vs. Taila Santos

Welterweight bout - Thiago Alves vs. Max Griffin

Heavyweight bout - Junior Albini vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Featherweight bout - Geraldo de Freitas Jr. vs. Felipe Colares

Bantamweight bout - Ricardo Ramos vs. No. 12 Said Nurmagomedov

Flyweight bout - Rogério Bontorin vs. No. 11 Magomed Bibulatov

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