Aaron Jeffery, Bruno Assis hoping SFT 23 main event win leads back to bigger stages

Aaron Jeffery and Bruno Assis are in a very similar boat.

Canada’s Jeffery (7-2) will take on Brazil’s Assis (9-4) in a middleweight contest in the main event of SFT 23 in Wynwood, FL on Thursday night.

After falling short in his Contender Series (DWCS) debut against Brendan Allen last summer, Jeffery, 27, said he’s hoping a win over Assis will be another step in the direction back to the top.

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“I don’t know exactly how the inner-workings of all that stuff goes, but if they were willing to put me on the Contender Series, I’m assuming they were willing to have me in the UFC after a win,” said Jeffery in an interview with MMA Empire.

“If I can string together another couple wins after this one, I think I should be right there again for sure.”

Assis, 28, is in a similar position to Jeffery, having also dropped his DWCS debut in 2018 at the hands of Andre Muniz.

Much like his adversary, Assis views Thursday’s main event as a golden opportunity to work his way back to another DWCS shot.

“That’s the goal, to show that I’m ready for a new opportunity and to fight the best in the world,” said Assis in an interview with MMA Empire.

DWCS experience an eye-opener

Although he wasn’t able to earn the win or a UFC contract, Jeffery said the whole DWCS experience helped him in his MMA career.

And having already seen and experienced it once, Jeffery said it makes him that much more motivated to work his way back there.

“It’s amazing; it’s the best treatment you’re going to get as a fighter. It’s a big stage, everything is so professional, they treat you well, they fly you out there, you do all the media, you’re in Vegas, and Dana White’s there. What an experience for a small town kid that got into this sport,” said Jeffery.

“Now, having it taken away from me like that, it’s just more motivation to get back there.”

After that DWCS bout last summer, Jeffery said his original plan was to take some time off after what was a long and tough training camp.

But with the result not going in his favour, Jeffery said he didn’t want to sit on the defeat for too long, and accepted a fight one month later at Combat Zone 71, which he would go on to win.

Jeffery said being able to bounce back from the DWCS loss so soon was a big confidence boost, and put him back in the right frame of mind.

“I couldn’t live with myself sitting on that loss for too long, and that opportunity came up, so we hopped on it. It worked out pretty well,” said Jeffery.

So far in his career, Jeffery is no stranger to stiff competition in the cage, with both losses on his record coming to Allen and Sean Brady, both of whom are undefeated in their UFC careers so far.

Jeffery said he’s expecting another tough test Thursday night from his fellow DWCS alumni, Assis.

“He’s a good fighter, for sure, with a good record. He’s kind of a bigger name guy too,” said Jeffery.

“He’s a good jiu-jitsu guy with a few wins by submission. He’s a black belt, so I expect him to be tough in the grappling exchanges. He’s pretty explosive, but I think he kind of wears down as the fight goes on, and I think I’ll be able to take advantage of that.”

Assis respects Jeffery’s skills

Assis is also familiar with taking on tough competition so far in his career, including the upcoming UFC middleweight title challenger, Paulo Costa.

Assis reciprocated Jeffery’s respect for his skills, and said he’s expecting a tough challenge from Jeffery.

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“I know he is a great athlete, and a very versatile guy with good movement,” said Assis.

“I am preparing for a difficult fight where two good athletes will do everything in search of victory.”

Much like Jeffery, Assis’ DWCS stint didn’t go as planned, but Assis said it wasn’t all negative.

He said the big stage experience and competing against yet another tough opponent helped him grow in his career.

“It was an incredible experience, even though it was not how I wanted to reaffirm that I was born for this. I love to fight,” said Assis.

“It showed me that I had to make changes to be among the best, and made me better as an athlete and as a person.”

Much like nearly every sporting event taking place around the world right now, SFT 23 will be held without fans in attendance.

Assis said he can see there being positives and negatives to the no-crowd dynamic, and is interested to see how it plays out.

“It’s a new experience, and I think I’ll miss the fans’ heat. But there are also positive points, and it’s easier to hear the coaches,” said Assis.

Assis’ Shoutouts

“I’m a very lucky guy; I had a lot of help in my career using many names, so I want to thank you in general. First thank God and my family for always being with me after the people from Brazil gave me a base to get here, and finally those who are welcoming me in this new way to live in America.” Follow Assis on social media: FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM

Follow Jeffery on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM