September 10, 2011 was a very important day for the man known simply as “Jacare.” On that day, we were witnesses to the beginning of the most recent evolution of his skill set. Despite losing that fight to Luke Rockhold, Souza showed us a little of what we thought he was missing from his game, good stand-up. Five fights later and he is arguably one of the most dangerous strikers in the division. It appears as though losing gives Souza added motivation. Cliché? I know, but the proof is in his uncanny ability to go on massive winning streaks shortly after suffering minor setbacks.
It is a little known fact that Souza lost his very first fight – a knockout loss to Jorge Patino at Jungle Fights 1 on September 13, 2003. All that he did after that was win his next 10 fights, which include victories over fighters such as Alexander Shlemenko and Jason Miller.
Souza would be handed his second KO loss at Dream 6 on September 23, 2008. That loss came at the hands of the man who is main eventing a card that Souza is on, Gegard Mousasi. From there, Souza would win four of his next five, with the only blemish on his record, a no contest vs. Jason Miller, a man he had defeated once before. Two of Souza’s four wins during that time came against Robbie Lawler (fighting for the UFC welterweight title) and Tim Kennedy (a contender at middleweight). Since the aforementioned loss to Rockhold, Souza has gone 5-0, with all five wins coming by stoppage, which includes two by KO and three by submission.
Francis Carmont, who has now won 11 fights in a row, appears to be finding his groove as a mixed martial artist. It hard to believe that at one point “Limitless” was 11-7, with four of his seven losses coming via some form of stoppage. Now Carmont stands just one impressive showing away from a potential number one contenders fight against (insert name here).
Carmont, who has now made six successful trips to the Octagon, is known as a grinder – a fighter capable of neutralizing an opponent. This should come as no surprise since he is a protégé of the greatest and most dominant welterweight champion in UFC history, Georges St. Pierre. Like GSP, Carmont has the skills to finish fights, as he did when he submitted both Magnus Cadenblad and Karlos Vemola. However, he prefers to stifle opponents using his top heavy control, which nine out of ten times renders his opponents’ offense null and void.
There is also what I like to call his Illusionist act. That is when he convinces judges that he has done enough to win, even though 99.9% of fans feel otherwise. His fights with Tom Lawlor and Lorenz Larkin, while officially wins, represent black marks of sorts on the career of Carmont.
The winner of this fight is going to be the fighter who demonstrates the ability to neutralize the strengths of the other fighter. And while that may seem simple enough for Carmont, whose game is built on that sort of fight, I believe it favors the man with more weapons at his disposal, Souza.
Don’t get me wrong, Souza has Carmont’s size and wrestling to worry about, but Carmont has to worry about Souza’s world-class jiu-jitsu and his dynamic striking ability. Both fighters’ record of late would seem to indicate that they are both on a streak of destruction; however, it is Souza who comes into this fight with a considerable amount of hype. At last check, Souza was at -525 while Carmont was at +415. I’m no expert odds guy, but it would appear as though no one is giving Carmont anything other than a punchers chance.
I fully expect Souza to win this fight after going through a slight feeling out process, in which he may or may not be taken down. But as prior opponents can attest to, and Yushin Okami can verify, Souza represents a threat whether on his back or on his feet. Make no mistake about it, this fight on Saturday night ends one way, with Jacare dropping Carmont, taking his back, and latching on a fight ending rear naked choke in round two. No illusion to see here, folks. Unless you count Souza’s ability to latch on a fight-ending submission from out of nowhere.