Middleweight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza appeared to begin his post fight celebration during his walk up to the ring last night to meet rival Gegard Mousasi. The celebration was not premature as Souza strolled through three rounds against an opponent for whom the word “defensive” might have been coined.
After not only outgrappling Mousasi on the floor, but outboxing the striking specialist on his feet, Souza passed guard and forced Mousasi up against the cage in a sitting position where he slapped on a guillotine choke that led to a quick third round submission in the evening’s main event. The performance earned him a bonus for performance of the night (along with Ben Rothwell for his first round knockout of Alistair Overeem). More importantly, it cemented his claim as the next logical person to challenge the winner of Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort for the UFC’s 185 pound title.
“I think this definitely puts me in line for a title shot,” said Souza.
The win also allowed the Brazilian native the opportunity to avenge an early career loss to Mousasi, who knocked him out with an up kick in Japan years ago when an over eager Souza tried to pounce on his prone opponent.
Mousasi, never the most exciting of fighters at his best, couldn’t mount any serious offensive either on his feet or on the ground, looking to merely fend of Souza the whole time.
“I was lacking a little bit of fighting spirit today,” said Mousasi, which is not exactly an excuse calculated to make either fans or UFC brass happy with his performance.
In the co-main event, Rothwell shocked the crowd by unloading an overhand right that appeared to only catch Overeem on the top of the head but still managed to drop the Dutch kickboxing specialist. Overeem went down to his hands and knees and Rothwell proceeded to rain punches down on him. When Overeem made no effort to escape or even block the blows, the referee had no choice but to stop the contest. Rothwell did not come away unscathed, however, having to go to the hospital for a possible broken arm, suffered while blocking an Overeem knee strike.
As for “the Reem” it appears his aura of dominance as a striker has been completely shattered. After suffering multiple knockout losses on his feet in the UFC, the once hyped Dutchman looks like he is well into the downside of his career.
Fight of the night honors went to the entertaining clash between Joe Lauzon and Michael Chiesa which ended in the second round when the doctor determined Chiesa couldn’t continue due to a cut.
Lauzon, who said in recalling his first UFC bout “I thought I’d be one and done” earned his thirteenth UFC fight night bonus for the Chiesa bout, breaking the record he shared with Anderson Silva.