Las Vegas, NV — By the time Raphael Assuncao steps in the octagon on Saturday, it will have been 18 months since he last competed.
On Wednesday at UFC Vegas 45 media day, the UFC veteran explained why he has been away for so long.
“Man, the first of the year, I had a car accident and had a bone bruise on my left elbow. Subsequently, I got COVID right after that. So, I had a car accident and didn’t know I had COVID. That all balled up into the postponement of my February 27 fight, which was then booked later for June, which I signed for,” Assuncao told reporters, including Cageside Press, during Wednesday’s media day. “So February 27 was cancelled because I had COVID, and my elbow was bothering me a lot.”
Assuncao went on to say that “I re-signed for June with a different opponent, which was Kyler Phillips. I was supposed to fight Kyler, and then I tore my bicep in training camp; it was too long of a training camp. That’s all I can remember anyway, March, April, May, June; I was just over-training, trying to get back in shape from my February fight that was scheduled. I was operated on a week after, and here we are.”
Assuncao sees himself on the first three-fight losing streak of his long career. Next, he faces Ricky Simon, who is looking to take his No. 12 ranking. Simon is on the opposite trajectory, entering the bout on a three fight win streak, but is sitting outside the top 15.
Assuncao told the media that he didn’t care who it was, and that isn’t any disrespect to Simon; he just wanted to fight. The Brazilian is using Simon’s hunger for the rankings as motivation.
“Obviously he’s going to be a hungry guy. I think I’m still 11, 12 or so and he’s top 15 I think. So I’m sure he’s going to be pretty motivated for that as well, and on top of that, my last fight wasn’t very good. So they probably look at that, ‘okay yeah, I’ll fight that guy.’ I take that into consideration. I’m pretty realistic as to what’s going on in the horizon. So I’m like, okay, let’s use it as motivation as well. Let him bring his thing, and I’m going to be well-prepared.”
Watch the rest of Raphael Assuncao’s interview above. More coverage of the event, which takes place this Saturday, December 18, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV, can be found below.