Wednesday night’s UFC Fight Night 28 was a great card and one that answered a number of different questions. One of the questions answered was that of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and whether or not he’s ready for a middleweight title-shot, and apparently the answer is yes.
Last night, Souza demonstrated an absolutely masterful and completely dominant obliteration of Yushin Okami, in his 1rst round TKO of his opponent. Yushin, for his part, was never really in the fight and didn’t even look as if he even belonged in the same ring, with Souza. Indeed it was so bad, that Okami only managed to land 1 strike in the round.
Now that he’s won and will more than likely assume Okami’s #3 ranking in the middleweight division, what’s next for Jacare?
As #2 Vitor Belfort is tied up with Dan Henderson with a scheduled November 9th bout and division champion Chris Weidman is fighting #1 contender Anderson Silva on December 28th, there seems to be no credible opponent for Souza in the 185 pound division, right now.
However setting that and the calendar aside, and assuming that Belfort loses and Silva wins, perhaps even having to do so twice (Silva / Weidman III), the question for Souza and Silva would become this, will the team-mates fight one another should the MMA math work out that way?
In terms of that question, Souza answered it at last night’s press conference and the answer is, at least for Souza, yes.
It’s a given that both fighter’s wouldn’t be thrilled with the match, but nonetheless, like Mark Munoz, Souza doesn’t seem to be prepared to allow his friendship with Anderson Silva to get in the way of his dream of becoming a UFC champion. Further, Jacare is prepared to try and make-hay at 205, as well and if so, that could easily put him on a collision course with other friends.
On the subject of fighting Anderson Silva specifically, Souza stated:
“That’s something which I can’t think about, that’s up to the UFC. Anderson is someone that I don’t want to fight. He is someone who is in my camp, he’s my friend. He helps me and I also help him. So, I wouldn’t be a good character if I said I wanted to fight him (audience applauds), but I’m a UFC fighter and I hope that the UFC never gives us this fight, but I’m ready to face anyone in the world; in my weight class and at 205, also.”
For his sentiments, I have to applaud him. If a fight makes sense and has legitimate purpose, it should be scheduled and regardless of whether or not the two combatants are friends. However, as good friends Yves Edwards and Melvin Guillard recently stated, if you’ve got to fight a friend, you want it to be for a title or a title-shot; something meaningful. To do less, is to invite a bad fight, because neither fighter is going to want to beat the tar out of the other, and what you’re apt to get as a result is either a submission victory (at best) or a decision.
As to Souza’s immediate plans for the future and whether or not he’s going to be waiting on the outcomes of the aforementioned bouts, or whether or not he’d like to take a fight in the interim, Jacare seems to be unconcerned and above it all. As Souza put it:
“First of all, as you can say, I’ve never complained. Again, I’ve done 2 very quick fights…and I tell you that I’m ready for anyone. I’m not going to ask for fights. I’m going to go to camp, I’m going to train and I’m going to be ready to face any opponent, because I am an employee who loves to work.”
For my part, I think the UFC will leave Souza idle until both the Weidman / Silva & Belfort / Henderson fights are resolved. If Belfort beats Henderson and Silva beats Weidman, Souza will more than likely be given Belfort. If however, Belfort wins and Weidman defends his title, then Belfort will get Weidman, or at least by rights he should, and Souza will be forced to either wait, take a lesser ranked fighter at 185 or stray up to 205, and take a match at light-heavyweight.
If that proves to be the case and Chael Sonnen can defeat Rashad Evans at UFC 167 in November, then a Sonnen / Souza fight could make a lot of sense, at least in terms of keeping Souza busy. The fight would also make sense from the point-of-view of Sonnen’s 185 pound aspirations.