Two of the top bantamweights in the UFC are set to meet at one of the biggest cards of the summer.
According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, No. 2 ranked bantamweight Raphael Assuncao will meet No. 8 ranked Cory Sandhagen at UFC 241, which takes place August 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The winner of this bout could be in good position to challenge for the title later this year against the winner of the vacant bantamweight title bout at UFC 238 between Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes.
Assuncao (27-6) has a tremendous 11-3 record in the UFC. After getting knocked out in his UFC debut against Erik Koch as a featherweight back in 2011, he dropped down to bantamweight and has since gone 11-2 at 135lbs. The 36-year-old Brazilian is coming off of a submission loss to the aforementioned Moraes which snapped a four-fight win streak, but despite that loss Assuncao remains one of the most accomplished bantamweights on the UFC roster. With wins over the likes of Moraes, TJ Dillashaw, Pedro Munhoz, Aljamain Sterling and Rob Font, Raphael Assuncao has proven to be one of the toughest tests for anyone at 135lbs. Yet, for whatever reason he has never had the chance to fight for the UFC bantamweight title. With a win over Sandhagen, though, he may finally get the chance to.
Sandhagen (11-1) has looked tremendous since joining the UFC roster. Just 27, the Colorado native is already a perfect 4-0 in the UFC with wins over John Lineker, Iuri Alcantara, Mario Bautista and Austin Arnett. Overall, he’s riding a six-fight win streak since his lone career loss to Jamall Emmers in 2017 in LFA. That loss seems to have lit a fire in Sandhagen, as he hasn’t lost since, and he continues to climb the ladder with every win in the Octagon. A win here over Assuncao and he’ll be in prime position to challenge for the belt.
With the UFC 241 card already featuring a main event rematch between UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, plus a welterweight bout between Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis and a middleweight bout between Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero, UFC 241 is shaping up to be one of the best cards of the year.
Who do you think will come out on top when Raphael Assuncao and Cory Sandhagen meet on the card?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/23/2019.