International Fight week is here and it all concludes on Saturday Night with UFC 200. The event showcases a special night filled with great fights on both the main card and preliminary rounds. The headlining event is a rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier for the undisputed light heavyweight title and that is not the only sequel bout of the night. Way down on the preliminary card is a rematch between two top contenders in the bantamweight division where the winner more than likely will have another opportunity in the near future. TJ Dillashaw lost a close split decision to Raphael Assuncao back in 2013. There was mention of doing this fight again during TJ’s last title run but an injury to Raphael kept that on hold. So as with many of the prelims this is a main event type of fight with huge implications so let’s take a look at the match up ahead.
TJ Dillashaw (12-3) many feel should have been allowed to jump right back in the title picture. Unfortunately for him that’s not the case. That falls to the hands of his old teammate but a more than formidable competitor in Assuncao waiting for him across the octagon. Dillashaw is a completely different beast since their first encounter. The level of ability since he started training with Duane Ludwig has completely turned around his fighting style displaying unique footwork to match his power and wrestling. Only his last opponent showcased a different speed that Dillashaw couldn’t handle but with Assuncao that may be no issue. While Raphael is clearly one of the more durable and well rounded fighters in the division speed is not his greatest asset. Dillashaw has better finishing percentages but the familiarity with Assuncao may not allow him to do so here. Still how he adjusts to the forward movement of Raphael and how he handles the clinch will be telling from the start.
Raphael Assuncao (23-4) has an impressive record and an even more stellar fight streak to boot. A winner of the last seven Raphael hasn’t been as active as we would expect from a fighter of his caliber to be. Assuncao is a gifted athlete and knows his way around the cage as a veteran of over 22 fights. Still it’s been two years since we have seen him compete so the possible effect of ring rust may come into play. Some fans don’t like the fighting style of Raphael as he usually goes to decisions. Though he can finish you on the ground and has sneaky power that usually allows him to dictate where he wants the fight to go. He will need to pick up the pace with this battle as a hungry Dillashaw will come out with urgency to provide a great show for the fans and place himself right in the title picture. Having beaten Dillashaw before is his biggest asset but that fight was very close and so long ago that holding that card can only carry him so far.
Possible a contender’s fight on the prelims is not usually expected but with the magnitude of UFC 200 it makes sense. Essentially most of these fights are lining up Fight Night or other PPV cards in the near future. For these two it’s a grudge match to prove who is at the top of the heap in the 135 pound weight class. One fighter feels like he should still be there while the other feels like he’s been passed up too many times. This makes for a great story heading into this fight and will propel either one of these fighters right where they want to be.
UFC 200 takes place on Saturday July 9th from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Nevada.