A few months back Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes were both stating their cases to earn a title shot at bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw.
Unfortunately neither fighter got the opportunity after the UFC granted Dillashaw an opportunity to drop down to 125 pounds to challenge Henry Cejudo for the flyweight title instead.
The next best thing would be a chance to secure a title shot when Dillashaw does return to bantamweight and that’s exactly what Assuncao and Moraes will be fighting for when they clash in the main event at UFC Fight Night from Fortaleza, Brazil on Feb. 2.
UFC president Dana White confirmed the news at the UFC 232 post fight press conference this past Saturday night.
“Obviously the Assuncao fight is [for a title shot],” White said. “That’s a No. 1 contender fight.”
Assuncao has been on a tear with four straight wins in the division including a split decision victory over Moraes in their first meeting back in 2017. The veteran Brazilian fighter has also split a pair of past fights with Dillashaw after defeating him in 2013 but then coming up short in the rematch in 2016.
As for Moraes, he’s torn through the bantamweight division after suffering that loss to Assuncao in his UFC debut.
Moraes has gone 3-0 since that initial loss to Assuncao including a pair of brutal knockouts against Jimmie Rivera and Aljamain Sterling in back-to-back fights.
Now the former World Series of Fighting champion will have a chance to avenge his only UFC loss when he faces Assuncao in Brazil while also looking to secure the next title shot in 2019.
Obviously declaring the fight as a No. 1 contender’s bout is far from a sure thing that the winner will actually receive the next title shot, especially if Cejudo is able to hand Dillashaw a defeat when they meet on Jan. 19 in Brooklyn.
Still, Assuncao and Moraes both have the credentials to back up their claims and one more win for either fighter should secure them a shot at bantamweight gold.