38-Year-Old UFC Middleweight 25-5-0, 1NC
February 22, 2018 Ronaldo Souza News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Souza will take on Kevin Gastelum in UFC 224 on May 12 at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Alexander K. Lee of MMAFighting.com reports.
It will be Souza's second fight of the calendar year, after the 38-year-old defeated Derek Brunson via TKO (strikes) in Charlotte on Jan. 27. Souza now boasts an 8-2 record UFC record, with losses coming to Robert Whittaker (undisclosed) and Yoel Romero.
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Fantasy AnalysisNot only did he defeat him, but the 38-year-old submission specialist did so with a head kick (and earned a Performance of the Night bonus for his efforts). Giving away a lot of athletic ability and speed, Jacare threw a ton of token body kicks in hopes of keeping Brunson at distance. Very few of them landed (prior to the finish), but they had their desired effect. Brunson got his hand up on the high kick that led to the finish, but Souza landed it with such force that Brunson was still stunned. Jacare has three losses in the past six and a half years and they have come against current UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker, and the two men that will fight for the Interim UFC Middleweight Championship next month, Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero. Jacare is certainly nearing the finish line but he proved once again on Saturday that he can win a big fight and that he can do so by going deep into his back of tricks. He is right back in the title picture.
Fantasy AnalysisSouza hasn't fought since April after undergoing pectoral surgery following his defeat at the hands of Robert Whittaker in Kansas City. He appears to be nearing full health with the announcement of this bout, with the timeline for this injury typically taking five-to-six months. Brunson enters having won his previous two fights, including a dominating victory over Lyoto Machida in Brazil in late October. During their past meeting in 2012, Souza won via knockout in 41 seconds, giving Brunson his second career defeat.
Fantasy AnalysisSouza suffered a pectoral rupture during his surprise loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC on FOX 24 back on April 15, and this procedure is expected to correct the issue long-term. In a statement issued by Souza, the middleweight contender stated "I'm feeling relieved. I'm already recovering well, and I'll move one step at a time towards my comeback to training and to the Octagon. I'll be back soon, stronger and even hungrier to fight." A timeline for his return won't be determined until after he begins physical therapy, but for perspective, NFL players that suffer this type of injury typically need a five-to-six month recovery period. The 37-year-old risked a lot by accepting his latest fight against Whittaker, and it burned him in a big way, both in terms of health and his quest for the belt.
Fantasy AnalysisAccepting a fight against Whittaker may very well be a decision that the 37-year-old Souza comes to regret for the remainder of his new eight-fight contract that he signed yesterday. Jacare probably could have sat on the sidelines and waited for a UFC Middleweight Championship opportunity, but he decided to remain active and paid for it. Jacare managed to take Whittaker's back in Round 1, but Whittaker worked his way back to his feet and it was all downhill from there for Souza. Jacare simply couldn't handle the hand speed of the younger, faster Whittaker. Souza remains one of the best middleweights in the world and he obviously isn't going anywhere, but Saturday's loss put a major crimp in his plans to ever fight for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Fantasy AnalysisSouza's fight against Robert Whittaker on Saturday would have been the last of his contract and possibly his last fight in the UFC had he not come to terms with the promotion. With this new contract, it's clear the UFC wants to keep Souza around, and will likely eventually get his shot at the middleweight title.
Fantasy AnalysisSince getting his fight against Luke Rockhold was called off in November, Souza rolled over Tim Boetsch at UFC 208, and proceeded to agree to another non-title fight against Whittaker that will take place on FOX this Saturday. At the time of the bout agreement, it was a bit confusing why Souza, winner of seven of eight UFC bouts, would accept a fight against someone outside of the division's top-5 ranked fighters. At 37 years old, the submission specialist is certainly deserving of a title shot, but middleweight champion Michael Bisping is currently scheduled to face Georges St-Pierre at a date that has yet to be determined. It's also likely that Yoel Romero, and even Gegard Mousasi, would be ahead in line for a title shot. If Souza and the UFC cannot come to terms on a new deal after Saturday, it's entirely possible Jacare will look to compete for a belt in a different promotion.
Fantasy AnalysisSouza will once again get passed up for a shot at middleweight gold, as champion Michael Bisping will next defend his title when Georges St-Pierre returns to the octagon in late-2017. Jacare won't just wait around for a title opportunity, however, preferring to stay active and take on the promotion's No. 6-ranked 185-pounder. Whittaker is one of the few middleweights as hot as Souza right now, owning six consecutive wins under the UFC banner. With the exception of a controversial decision loss to Yoel Romero, Souza hasn't been beaten since 2011. At 37 years old, Souza may be running out of time to get his title shot, so he'll look to pad his resume and accelerate the process.
Fantasy AnalysisAs expected. It has gotten to the point where there would seem to be a high probability that Jacare is the best 185-pounder on the planet. On Saturday night, he threw Boetsch to the mat and essentially ripped his arm off. It's not the first time we have seen him dominate inside the octagon and it won't be the last. Jacare is now 7-1 in the UFC with six of those wins coming via stoppage. The only loss was a split decision setback at the hands of Yoel Romero in a fight in which Souza deserved to win. UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping stated on Friday that a title defense against Romero, while widely expected, has yet to be offered to him. Romero is going to get the call over Jacare because of the "win" he earned over him in December 2015, but Jacare is the better fighter.
Fantasy AnalysisSouza hasn't seen the Octagon since May, when he picked up his third career knockout victory against Vitor Belfort at UFC 198. He has since had a fight with Luke Rockhold (knee) cancelled, but has been lobbying UFC brass for another bout in an effort to stay active. The 35-year-old Boetsch is certainly a respectable opponent, but he isn't even a top-10 middleweight according to the UFC.com Fighter Rankings. Look for Souza, a submission specialist, to enter as a heavy favorite.
Fantasy AnalysisIt appears as if Souza will remain on the card and is adamant about fighting Michael Bisping for the Middleweight title. His manager Gilberto Faria said of he situation, "Michael Bisping is running from Jacare. He is so scared of him." Look for more updates to come once the promotion decides who to put Souza up against.
Fantasy AnalysisRonaldo lost to Rockhold five years ago in five rounds by unanimous decision. This will be his first fight since his minor arthroscopic knee surgery in May. In his last fight, Jacare knocked out Vitor Belfort in the first 30 seconds of the first round. His rematch with former middleweight champion Rockhold will be an intriguing fight, as both men are submission specialists.
Fantasy AnalysisFollowing a lopsided victory over Vitor Belfort on Saturday, Souza was seen walking with a slight limp as he exited the octagon. The No. 2 middleweight contender later revealed that he first felt the pain in his knee one week before the matchup with Belfort. Now, according to Guiherme Cruz of MMA Fighting, Souza will undergo surgery Thursday and is expected to return to training in four weeks, leaving the door open for another fight approximately 3-to-4 months from now. Souza was in consideration for a title shot against Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 after Chris Weidman had to withdraw with a neck injury, but had to turn down the opportunity in order to address his health concerns. Instead, the UFC turned to Michael Bisping to replace Weidman in that bout. Once the dust settles, Souza fully intends to face the winner of that bout for his first ever UFC championship belt (he had previously held the belt while competing for Strikeforce).
Fantasy AnalysisSouza caught the attention of the MMA world after a convincing first-round TKO over UFC legend Vitor Belfort on Saturday, which placed him as the frontrunner for the next middleweight title opportunity. Unfortunately for Souza, that opportunity came earlier than expected due to the sudden withdrawal of Chris Weidman (neck) from UFC 199. Although Souza appeared to take little damage in Saturday's fight, less than three weeks is an unusually quick turnaround for any fighter, much less one that is vying for a championship belt. With Souza out of the picture, Michael Bisping now becomes the leading candidate to face Luke Rockhold for the middleweight strap at UFC 199 on June 4.
Fantasy AnalysisThat should be more than enough to earn Jacare the next middleweight title shot against the winner of next month's Luke Rockhold v. Chris Weidman fight. Jacare's ground game is unrivaled, but his striking appears to somehow be improving as he ages. He knows he does his best work on the mat, so he limits the chances that he takes on the feet and it has made him a more productive fighter. Jacare (36) is considerably older than both Rockhold and Weidman (both 31), but he is showing no signs of slowing down. He keeps himself in great shape and there has been zero noticeable decline in any aspects of his game. A winner of nine of his last ten fights (the tenth was a poor judge's decision), Jacare would almost certainly find himself as an underdog against either Rockhold or Weidman, but he is talented enough to beat either man, even at his advanced age.
Fantasy AnalysisJacare has won eight of his last nine bouts, with his only loss during that span coming via split decision to Yoel Romero in his last fight in December. Even that loss should have a huge asterisk next to it because it was a fight that Souza clearly one. So in reality, Jacare’s last “real loss” was against current UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold back in September 2011 when they both were fighting for Strikeforce. Among the fighters who Jacare has defeated in his career: Alexander Shlemenko, Tim Kennedy, Derek Brunson, Yushin Okami, Gegard Mousasi and current UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler. The guy has been one of the best middleweights in the world for more than a decade and at age-36, he is showing no signs of slowing down. If Jacare can handle Belfort without any issues, he is almost certainly looking at a title shot.
Fantasy AnalysisSouza will look to get back on the winning track by avenging a controversial split-decision loss to Yoel Romero at UFC 194. Prior to that loss, he had rattled off five straight victories in the UFC. Many may argue that his opponent, the 38-year-old Belfort, has his best days of fighting behind him, but the fellow Brazilian has won four of his last five nonetheless. Souza will get a chance to put his submission skills to the test against one of the UFC's most decorated veterans.
Fantasy AnalysisJacare has a legitimate gripe about the judge's call, but the fight wasn't lopsided enough to consider the decision a travesty of justice or anything like that. Jacare got better as the fight went on. He was hammered early on and was lucky to survive the first round. He slowly found his game as the second round progressed and he was easily the better and fresher fighter in the final stanza. Jacare would have a better chance of beating both Chris Weidman or Luke Rockhold in a title fight because his cardio is far better than Romero's and he would hold up considerably better over a 25-minute fight. Unfortunately, Jacare is in a bind after this loss. On the plus side, this fight was close enough that it isn't going to drop Jacare far down the rankings. A couple big more wins in a row and he could find himself right back in title contention.
Fantasy AnalysisJacare has been undefeated since making the move to the UFC from Strikeforce, and will now look to overcome Yoel Romero in a fight that will almost certainly determine the next Middleweight contender. Jacare, as dangerous a jiu-jitsu practitioner as there is in the UFC, would be well-served to avoid the heavy hands of his opponent -- 9 of Romero's 10 career victories have come by KO/TKO.
Fantasy AnalysisBoth fighters are coming into UFC 194 with quite a bit of confidence since Souza has a current winning streak of eight matches and Romero has been victorious in his previous six. This fight has actually been canceled twice in the past for various injury concerns but it appears they'll finally meet in what's expected to be an equally matched tussle.
Fantasy AnalysisAs we all know, Jacare remains behind Luke Rockhold in regards to getting a shot at Chris Weidman's middleweight championship. Souza's manager mentioned that he would be willing to fight Yoel Romero, who defeated Lyoto Machida last week and who he was originally scheduled to face in April. The most interesting tidbit here is Jacare's apparent willingness to move up a division. The 205-pound division is very thin at the moment and he would be a welcome addition. Souza is big for the middleweight division and you wouldn't think he'd have much problem in the higher weight class.