Junior and Rafael Assuncao. Photo property of the American Fight League.
World Extreme Cagefighting’s featherweight division just keeps getting deeper and deeper. The organization has reportedly signed Rafael Assuncao, who owns career victories over the likes of Joe Lauzon and Jorge Masvidal, to a multi-fight deal that will have him make his promotional debut this spring.
However even though the signing further bolsters the WEC’s most competitive division, it also comes from with a downside: Assuncao’s manager, Malki Kawa, tells MMA Junkie that his client won’t be challenging for the WEC featherweight belt as long as Mike Brown, his training partner at American Top Team, has the belt:
However, should Assuncao establish himself in the division and should Brown defend his title, don’t expect the two fighters to square off in the future.
“Hopefully, we’ll get one or two fights against some solid competition and put ourselves in line to challenge for the title,” Kawa said. “Rafael will be training with American Top Team, so he wouldn’t want to challenge Mike Brown for the title. He hopes Mike continues to have a great run as champion, but if circumstances change at some point, he would definitely like to challenge for the title.”
I understand where Assuncao is coming from. He’s carrying the same mentality that many others in the sport do when it comes to fighting teammates. Hell, I wouldn’t be too fond of the idea of fighting someone that I train with everyday either. However in this situation, it’s a dilemma that could end up affecting the division, especially if Brown holds on to the belt longer than most expect him to, because Assuncao certainly has the skills to be able to shoot right up to the top of the heap in the WEC’s featherweight ranks.
If both Brown and Assuncao start riding respective winning streaks and the money is right, I’m willing to bet that they would be willing to put their friendship aside temporarily in order to save the WEC’s featherweight title situation from going into the toilet. Otherwise, their relationship may end up clogging up things. Fortunately, there are plenty of featherweights waiting to challenger Brown and prevent the aforementioned from happening.