Who's next for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight champion Renan Barao?
Perhaps a showdown against his fellow countryman, Raphael Assuncao, if the scrappy 135 pounder gets his way.
Originally booked to face Francisco Rivera at UFC 170 on Feb. 22, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Raphael tweeted that Rivera was forced to bow out due to broken hand and will not be able to compete in "Sin City."
Hi guys, so..My supposed opponent Francisco Rivera broke his hand and is outta the fight #UFC170 . Who would ya'll like me fight against ??— Raphael Assuncao (@RaphaAssuncao) February 3, 2014
After hearing the unfortunate news, Assuncao took the opportunity to ask for a new opponent, and he went right to the top of the bantamweight ladder as he recently told MMA Fighting that he would like his crack at dethroning the division champion.
"I want my shot against Barao. I'm the only undefeated bantamweight that hasn't fought for the title yet. I'm the No. 3 in the division. I'll ask the boss for this fight. Dominick (Cruz) is hurt. Urijah (Faber), Eddie Wineland and Michael McDonald already fought Barao, and I can do a different fight with him. Barao is not hurt after this last fight, and I can give him a different challenge. I hurt my shoulder and did physical therapy for over a month, and would have to completely change my camp for a new fight now (at UFC 170). It would be great to have a full camp now and challenge Barao for the title."
Indeed, Assuncao has gone on a tear since dropping down to 135 pounds, winning all of his five fights in the division, which includes an impressive victory over T.J. Dillishaw at UFC Fight Night 35.
That's good enough to earn him the No. 3 spot on the official UFC rankings.
Barao, meanwhile, held on to his title by defeating Urijah Faber for the second time this past weekend (Feb. 1, 2014) at UFC 169 in Newark, New Jersey. But it wasn't without its fair share of controversy.
Nevertheless, Renan is still the champion and could be looking at defending it for the fourth time against a red-hot Assuncao in the near future. That is, of course, if Dana White and Co. grant Raphael his wish.
Who wants it?