Middleweight submission master Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is having trouble finding a top opponent, let alone the title shot that many fans and media members feel he has deserved for awhile now.
After his former Strikeforce foe Luke Rockhold pulled out of their scheduled main event at last November’s UFC Fight Night 101 in Australia, Souza had to settle got a bout versus Tim Boetsch – a tough opponent no doubt, but not one you would have expected to be announced for the No. 3-ranked Souza, who has only lost one of his last 10 bouts.
And even that was a highly controversial decision to top-ranked Yoel Romero at 2015’s UFC 194, and “Soldier of God” failed an out-of-competition drug test shortly after the bout, casting further doubt on the victory. But Jacare seems to be focused on another opponent, and that’s Rockhold, the man who stole his Strikeforce title in a razor-thin classic back in the fall of 2011.
During a recent interview with FOX Sports, Jacare said he wanted the fight and thinks Rockhold is running from him after pulling out of the bout yet still posting pictures of himself training online:
“I wanted to keep myself active. I was looking to fight Luke Rockhold but it seems like he got hurt and now I keep seeing him on social media training and doing things so now I think he’s running. So I’m happy that Tim Boetsch accepted the fight and it’s going to keep me ready and active and fighting so I’m pretty stoked that he took the fight. I’m good to go.”
Jacare elaborated on his feelings about Rockhold, noting that he first felt bad for his former opponent but after watching the AKA star campaign for a grappling match with Jon Jones, he has now changed his tune:
“Well at first, I felt kind of sad for him because he got hurt and couldn’t make the fight. I put myself in his shoes and I felt bad about it. But then after a while, watching him training and then especially when I saw he challenged Jon Jones for a grappling match, which we all know if you’re hurt you can’t do grappling, and he wants to fight him, it kind of changed my mind and what I think about him,
“Everything crossed my mind now that he’s running away from me and he’s afraid to fight me.”
Souza may be a bit miffed at the behavior of his prior scheduled opponent, and it’s even understandable why. He’s now involved in a much less high-profile bout, and all he can do to continue on what seems like a never-ending quest for a UFC middleweight fashion is finish Boetsch in impressive fashion like he’s supposed to do.
The risk certainly doesn’t equal the reward, but that’s become something of a familiar situation for Jacare.