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In a post-Joe Silva style of matchmaking this December, a man on a three-fight skid will be going up against an opponent riding a three-fight win streak.
MMA DNA was the first to announce on Friday that Raphael Assuncao (27-8) will square off against Ricky Simon (18-3) at the UFC Fight Night event on Dec. 18. This UFC Apex card in Las Vegas does not currently have a headliner, although this and Amanda Lemos vs. Nina Nunes at strawweight are the highest ranked bouts on the card so far. The matchup has since been confirmed by multiple outlets, as well as Simon himself on his Instagram.
Assuncao will be looking to pick up his first victory in over three years when he steps in the cage against Simon. A quick guillotine choke defeat after a pair of brutal right hands from Marlon Moraes put him on this current downslide he is on. A decision loss to Cory Sandhagen followed that, and his last performance came against ex-champ Cody Garbrandt. At UFC 250 in June 2020, Garbrandt iced Assuncao with one punch to record a highlight-reel knockout, and Assuncao has not competed since then. Bouts against Raoni Barcelos in February and Kyler Phillips in July fell through this year when Assuncao fell ill from COVID-19 and then injured his bicep, respectively.
On the other hand, Simon has rattled off a trio of wins since his decision defeat to Rob Font in late 2019. A split verdict over Ray Borg led to an appearance against short-notice replacement Gaetano Pirrello, and he tapped Pirrello with an arm-triangle choke in the second round. His one-sided victory over Brian Kelleher – one that came at featherweight – put him on the three-fight win streak he finds himself on today. Simon was once considered as an opponent for Timur Valiev, but that fell apart and Valiev intended on facing Daniel Gustavo Santos until Valiev had to withdraw from that as well.