UFC on ESPN+8: Jacare Souza Putting Everything on the Line

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Jacare Souza of Brazil celebrates his knockout win against Chris Weidman of the United States in their middleweight bout during the UFC 230 event at Madison Square Garden on November 3, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

UFC Fort Lauderdale is the opportunity at least one high profile fighter has fallen short of in the past. Jacare Souza has everything to lose at UFC Fort Lauderdale. Despite being one of the best middleweights in the UFC, and an ex-Strikeforce middleweight Champion, Souza has jumped through hoops in order to land a UFC title shot.

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Since losing his MMA debut, Souza has just five losses in 32 fights. His second career loss came against Gegard Mousasi for the DREAM FC middleweight title. After winning and defending the Strikeforce title once, he lost the belt to Luke Rockhold. Souza is 9-3 in the UFC, losing only to Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker, and Kelvin Gastelum. Current champion Whittaker is the only person to finish him. With such a resume, Souza has established himself as one of the best middleweights in the world.

UFC Continues to Dodge Souza Title Hopes

The UFC is trying to avoid lackluster fights, especially for headliners. What seems to be worse for Souza is he is an entertaining fighter. His main drawback falls under marketability. Not only has the UFC gone through their fair share of Brazilian champions, but they want to reward fighters who can help reward the UFC. Souza is not a Jon Jones, Conor McGregor or Georges St-Pierre, and because of that, the UFC seems to be holding out as long as possible. However, time’s up.

After losing a decision to recent title challenger Gastelum, Souza knocked out ex-champion Chris Weidman. He was supposed to take on Yoel Romero in a rematch, but the bout fell through due to Romero pulling out. His next opponent was Paulo Costa, but that fell through as well.

On paper, Jack Hermansson is not on the same level as Souza’s previous opponents. If he loses, it will be interesting to see where Souza chooses to take his career. He has been frustrated with the UFC in the past, and his inability to land a title shot despite strong performances could play a role in his decision. At the same time, he signed an eight-fight contract with the UFC after his bout with Whittaker, so his commitment level to the promotion is obvious. One would hope that they can reward him in the near future.

Looking Ahead

Win or lose, Souza deserved to be the next in line on several occasions. Getting passed up on a regular basis for the more ‘crowd-pleasing’ fight. Souza only took this fight once the UFC brass promised a title shot if he wins. Now taking on his third scheduled opponent for the upcoming card, Souza will be as hungry as ever to come away with a victory.

UFC will need to book Israel Adesanya and Whittaker as soon as possible. Not only will this be an incredible promotional opportunity in Australia and New Zealand, but the middleweight division will gain some solidarity. All those hungry fighters on the outside looking in will have an opponent to keep in mind.

Souza will be looking for his 10th UFC win this weekend. If he can pull it off, you know he will be waiting for the winner of Adesanya-Whittaker more than anyone else. It looks like 2019 will be a big year for the middleweight division.

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