Assuncao: Fear of Failure a Motivating Factor in Second UFC Tour

By Brian Knapp Dec 30, 2011
Junior Assuncao remembers what it feels like to lose, even though he has not experienced a defeat in three years, seven months and one day.

Assuncao (13-4, 2-2 UFC) will carry a seven-fight winning streak into his featherweight duel with “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 winner Ross Pearson at UFC 141 “Lesnar vs. Overeem” on Friday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The 30-year-old Brazilian admits the fear of failure has become a driving force in his career.

“I have not lost in a long time. However, you only lose if you fight,” Assuncao (Pictured) told Sherdog.com. “The last time I lost, I wasn’t afraid to lose, where now that’s a huge fear I have in my mind. It makes me work harder and keeps my mind strong for the fight. I’m not the best, but, mentally, I’m not losing to anyone -- period.”

Now training under Drew Lawrence at the Colorado Fight Factory in Colorado Springs, Assuncao defeated Eddie Yagin by unanimous decision at UFC 135 in September, as he returned to the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the first time since 2007. Assuncao struck for multiple takedowns, worked effectively from top position and defended against Yagin’s submission attempts without issue at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

“It felt great. I am on a mission,” Assuncao said. “With the altitude and a [UFC] newcomer [for an] opponent, the fight was not as exciting as the fans and I expected it to be, but I was still able to come out injury-free with the victory.”

Pearson poses a serious challenge for Assuncao, especially on the feet. A rugged but polished standup fighter, the Team Rough House representative has won four of his six bouts inside the Octagon, including victories over Pride Fighting Championships veteran Aaron Riley, UFC lightweight mainstay Spencer Fisher and Russian-born German kickboxer Dennis Siver.

“Look, all guys in the UFC deserve respect, no matter what,” Assuncao said. “He is tough guy, but at the end of the day, I don’t think he has my credentials or [the] creativity [he needs] to beat me. Yes, anyone can get caught with something crazy, but that goes both ways. It’s not a gamble to me. I have to be smart inside that cage, and I do not plan on getting hurt. Nothing personal: it’s just another tough guy, like many others I’ve fought and won [against].”

The 27-year-old Pearson will have the added pressure of making the 146-pound featherweight threshold for the first time in the UFC. His previous six bouts all came at 155 pounds.

“Well I think he is a smart guy; he’ll make the weight,” Assuncao said. “I don’t have a crystal ball to know how his performance is going to be. I’m expecting a lion in front of me.”

Assuncao, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with six submissions among his 13 professional victories, figures to have an edge should the fight with Pearson spill onto the floor.

“If I get to where I want, the job will be executed,” he said. “He knows that. If he tries to take me down, I can choke him; if I’m on top and he tries to get up, there’s a huge chance I’ll take his back. On the other hand, if I play Russian roulette with him, I’m sure he can turn me off; it’s a fight. I could be training with a ninja, but inside that cage, everyone is helpless. It’s just me and him.”

Win or lose, Assuncao has pondered a return to his homeland.

“After this fight, I’m considering going to Brazil for few months since the UFC is finally there and it’s my home,” he said. “I’ll have a better organic diet and will be close to my kids and parents. We’ll see. Now, all I’m worried about is this fight. After [the fight], we will regroup and see what’s best for me.”

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