After Yoel Romero was forced out of their UFC on FOX 15 co-main event at the last minute, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza had no choice but to take a late replacement fight against Chris Camozzi instead.
The bout will be a rematch of their previous match-up in May 2013, where Jacare won easily with a first round arm triangle that put Camozzi to sleep.
Camozzi briefly exited the UFC last September, signing on to Colorado-based Prize FC and winning their middleweight championship in his first bout. He defended it once with another first round stoppage, and now he’ll have a rare second chance to take on the world’s no. 1-ranked middleweight.
No one’s expecting him to have any realistic shot at unseating Jacare, and they’re probably right. But regardless of that, destroying Camozzi doesn’t do anything for Jacare’s plight right now. He has seven straight wins, and edging Romero for the eighth would have at least given him a chance at leapfrogging the winner of UFC on FOX 15’s main event between no. 2-ranked Lyoto Machida and no. 4 Luke Rockhold.
Now Jacare will most likely have no legitimate chance at the next title shot versus the winner of UFC 187’s Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort co-main event, as that distinction will go to Machida or Rockhold. That means he’ll have to wait for the second title shot at the very earliest, and that’s barring any unforeseen (and perhaps likely) injuries and/or any rematch drama following Weidman vs. Belfort.
All in all, Souza is in about as bad of shape as a top-ranked fighter who has won five straight UFC bouts with four finishes. He’ll probably be rooting for his Brazilian brethren Machida this weekend, because his last loss came to Rockhold for the Strikeforce belt back in September 2011.
At 35 years old, time isn’t exactly on his side, so he needs to get that opportunity sooner than later. It’s safe to say he deserves it; but champion Chris Weidman’s injuries have postponed his bout with Belfort since May 2014. Hopefully he can stay healthy if he does win, because the stacked division deserves to have its title defended regularly considering the deluge of talent at the top.
Jacare is stuck in a kind of no man’s land, and that doesn’t bode well in a division that has only seen one title fight since late December 2013. He’s a championship-caliber fighter ready for another championship opportunity, but those plans may have been put on hold for the time being the moment that Romero got hurt in training.