Here we go again. Another fight preview featuring a WEC holdover against a Zuffa newcomer, in the featherweight division, and contested between two Brazilian fighters.
Raphael Assuncao at least is a known quantity. His UFC debut didn’t go particularly well, though; Assuncao was suddenly knocked out by rising striker Erik Koch. In fact, Assuncao’s been on a recent slide, losing three of his last four fights, beating L.C. Davis while losing to Koch, Diego Nunes, and Urijah Faber. In Assuncao’s defense, Koch, Nunes, and Faber are three of the toughest customers around, and none of those losses are damning as far as Assuncao’s status as a UFC fighter is concerned. Assuncao has had his hand raised in enough key fights – against Davis, Jameel Massouh, James Birdley, Joe Lauzon, and Jorge Masvidal – that he’s proven he’s a quality fighter who belongs in MMA’s biggest promotion.
But let’s talk about Johnny Eduardo. I had never heard of Eduardo before seeing his name announced as Assuncao’s opponent at UFC 134. A look at his record shows that he has a somewhat remarkable fight history. His MMA debut? November 1, 1996. Before you write about how Eduardo is on an 11-fight winning streak despite being a 9-year veteran, and how that CLEARLY invalidates what I’ve written about 9-year MMA veterans tending to decline… I have to note that Eduardo fought only twice between 2000 and 2006. The idea behind the 9-year rule is that the nine years are at least somewhat continuous as far as a fighter’s professional career is concerned.
Eduardo has fought a couple of interesting names. The one that stands out is a 2000 fight against former PRIDE lightweight champion Takanori Gomi. Eduardo lost by submission, but at least he lasted until the third round; not a trivial feat against a young Gomi. The other name that I notice is Milton Vieira, a former PRIDE veteran and elite grappling talent. Eduardo lost by submission due to anaconda choke. So Eduardo has at least fought recognizable names, he just hasn’t beaten them.
Who exactly has Eduardo beaten? Well, there’s Francisco Chagas, for a Victory Score of 68.65. Unfortunately for Eduardo, that rates as his only win against a “UFC-quality” opponent. In fact, during Eduardo’s 11-1 start in MMA, he won eight times against winless opponents. As much as this was the norm in MMA in the 1990s, it serves to illustrate to not put too much stock in Eduardo’s 25-8 record.
As far as I see things, Raphael Assuncao represents the second toughest opponent of Johnny Eduardo’s career. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect Eduardo to be an easy out. One thing about fighters who have a lot of experience is that they have a tendency to be “crafty” so to speak. I don’t think Eduardo will be the kind of fighter that Assuncao can just run over.
SILVA PREDICTION: RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO (31.83) OVER JOHNNY EDUARDO (28.65)
But there’s only so much credit I can give to a guy who has a grand total of one win against a “UFC-quality” opponent. Eduardo has built a long MMA career on beating obscure opponents, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in this case none of the obscure opponents are particularly impressive. Eduardo has seven career losses by submission, and Assuncao has nine career wins by submission. So I’m going to predict that Assuncao eventually takes Eduardo to the ground and submits him.