Early on in Raphael Assuncao’s professional career, like most MMA fighters starting out, he was fighting anyone at any time. When a call came in for his fifth pro fight in Duluth, Georgia, the Brazilian accepted it not knowing he would be fighting a soon to be BMF champion, Jorge Masvidal.
Assuncao started his career out at lightweight and on April 21, 2005, at Full Throttle 1, the Brazilian was taking on a fellow undefeated fighter in 5-0, Jorge Masvidal.
Although Raphael Assuncao didn’t know much about “Gamebred” he did know he would be the smaller man.
“It just happened at 155 in Atlanta. I was 4-0, both undefeated and that is the fight that happened,” Assuncao explained to BJPENN.com. “I accepted it knowing he was a bigger guy. But, I said let’s make it happen.”
Why the fight even happened in the first place was simple. Assuncao was looking to get experience in MMA and accepted every fight they offered. He almost nearly even fought Yves Edwards, but the money didn’t work out.
“I took every fight I could get, that is why that happened. I accepted it, but I was supposed to fight Yves Edwards. That fight didn’t happen because I tried to negotiate more money,” he said. “They offered 1500/1500 to fight Edwards and I said no, 3000/3000 to get the fight. They didn’t want it. That fight didn’t happen.”
In the fight against Masvidal, Assuncao, who was still young in his MMA career, had just been a pro for a little over a year and relied a ton on his wrestling. He knew he wouldn’t be able to stand and strike with Gamebred who grew up fighting in the streets with Kimbo Slice.
So, in the first round, the Brazilian had a simple game plan of getting a takedown and hopefully being able to hold Masvidal on the ground. According to his memory, as unfortunately, there is no video of this fight on YouTube, that is exactly how the first round played out.
“Yeah, I used my wrestling. The first round was me getting one takedown and I just laid and prayed the entire round,” he explained. “Threw some ground strikes but really, it was me just laying on top of him to win the first round.”
After a dominant first round, Masvidal kept the fight on the feet in the second and pieced up Assuncao pretty good. 19-19 after two, according to the Brazilian bantamweight.
“He beat me up pretty good in the second, landed some good shots. So, he won that one,” he said.
Entering the third, Raphael Assuncao knew if he wanted to keep his undefeated record intact he needed to get a takedown. Right when the bell rang, Assuncao shot and got the takedown. And, just like the first round, he was able to hold Masvidal down and land some ground and pound to win the round and the fight.
“Then, in the third round, I knew I needed to win the round to win the fight,” Assuncao said. “So I did exactly what I did in the first and I got one takedown and laid and prayed for the win.”
Although Assuncao holds wins over Masvidal and Joe Lauzon early on his career, he doesn’t think about it too often. He also doesn’t really care that he has both on his record as it was so early on in their MMA careers.
“It is all part of the game. I don’t say oh I beat Masvidal but it is cool,” he said. “I’ve been in this game for a long time. I’ve fought everybody man and always improving.”
But, given Raphael Assuncao did hand Jorge Masvidal his first pro loss, perhaps the BMF title is truly his?
“Yeah, right? [Laughs] Nah, I wouldn’t take anybody’s credit or accomplishment,” he concluded.
What do you make of Raphael Assuncao reflecting on his 2005 fight with Jorge Masvidal?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/17/2020.