Urijah Faber will face Raphael Assuncao on March 21. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
A pivotal bantamweight matchup between Urijah Faber and Raphael Assuncao will headline the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s March 21 trip to Rio de Janeiro.
Promotion officials announced the bout on Thursday. In addition, a welterweight clash pitting Demian Maia against Ryan LaFlare will serve as the evening’s co-main event. UFC Fight Night "Faber vs. Assuncao" takes place at the Maracanazinho Gymnasium and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
After suffering a first-round technical knockout loss to Renan Barao in his most recent title bid at UFC 169, Faber rebounded to post consecutive submission triumphs over Alex Caceres and Francisco Rivera to close out 2014. “The California Kid” is 8-3 within the Las Vegas-based promotion, with all three defeats coming in championship fights.
Assuncao has prospered since moving from featherweight to 135 pounds following a loss to Erik Koch at UFC 128. The 32-year-old Brazilian has won seven straight fights inside the Octagon, most recently scoring a unanimous decision win over Bryan Caraway at UFC Fight Night “MacDonald vs. Saffiedine” on Oct. 4.
Maia last competed at UFC Fight Night “Miocic vs. Maldonado” on May 31, when he outpointed Alexander Yakovlev to halt a two-fight skid. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace had dropped consecutive decisions to Rory MacDonald and Jake Shields in his previous two outings.
LaFlare, meanwhile, is unbeaten in 11 professional appearances -- including four with the UFC. The 31-year-old New Yorker took a unanimous verdict over John Howard at UFC Fight Night “Minotauro vs. Nelson” in his lone bout of 2014.