When I saw Junior Assuncao vs. Eddie Yagin listed as one of the matches at UFC 135, to take place in the featherweight division, I naturally assumed that each man was making his UFC debut. Yagin is, but this is actually a return trip for Junior Assuncao, who went 1-2 in the UFC in 2006 and 2007. His losses were to respected opponents in Kurt Pellegrino and Nate Diaz. His win… was against David Lee. That win was only good enough for a 57.80 Victory Score, meaning that Lee fell well short of the “UFC-quality” standard I have arbitrarily established as a 65.00 Victory Score.
So Assuncao was released from the promotion after losing to Diaz, but now, after a 7-1 run since his release, he has been brought back. This begs the question: who has he beaten (and lost to) since his UFC release?
- Kelvin Hackney, 62.59 Victory Score
- Steve Sharp, 61.73
- Mark Miller, 57.17
- John Mahlow, 55.32
- Wesley Murch, 51.75
- Peter Grimes, 51.28
- Kamrin Naville, 47.50
To make matters worse, the loss was to Torrance Taylor, who would have yielded a paltry 51.65 Victory Score if Assuncao had beaten him. The result is a fighter in Assuncao who enters near the bottom of the featherweight division according to SILVA.
So what about his opponent, Eddie Yagin? Yagin enters the UFC with a 15-4-1 record. He started his career 8-0, and was subsequently tested against elite grappler Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro. Yagin promptly went 0-3-1 in his next four fights, losing to Ribeiro, Joe Jordan, and Rich Clementi, and fighting David Yeung to a draw.
From Assuncao’s perspective, there’s good news and bad news regarding Yagin’s performance since then. The good news is that Yagin has a recent loss to Diego Saraiva, a decent fighter who falls well short of the UFC standard. The bad news is that Yagin’s most recent fight was a win over previously 9-1 Joe Soto in Tachi Palace Fights. That win rates as far better than any of Assuncao’s career victories.
SILVA PREDICTION: EDDIE YAGIN (26.38) OVER JUNIOR ASSUNCAO (20.15)
Make no mistake, this is not a high-level UFC fight, and I don’t expect whoever wins to make a big splash in the UFC featherweight division. But there have been much worse fights put together as well. In any event, only one of these fighters has shown success against high-level competition, and it’s not Junior Assuncao. From a purely methodological standpoint, Yagin is the pick to win.