Strikeforce: Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza vs. Derek Brunson Head-to-Toe Breakdown
This weekend, Strikeforce quietly rolls in with another intriguing event, headlined by a women's title bout between Ronda Rousey and Sarah Kaufman.
On the card, middleweight standouts Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Derek Brunson are set to meet in an important fight. Souza, who is looking to get a shot at regaining his title, takes on a hungry prospect coming off his first career loss in Brunson.
Here is the head-to-toe breakdown of that fight.
It may not be apparent, but Ronaldo Souza's striking has improved. This can be seen in his losing effort against Luke Rockhold, a man with much better striking than the Brazilian.
This improved striking will be thrown in against Derek Brunson and his improving standup. Working with Greg Jackson and his staff, Brunson has gone from a one-dimensional wrestler to a mixed martial artist with developing striking.
Both men are nowhere near above average on the feet, but both do have power. It is close, but Souza gets the close nod.
Derek Brunson is a collegiate wrestler who competed at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The Division II wrestler has used his background in the sport to earn nine wins as a pro.
His ground and pound is nasty and his top game is smothering. He has been able to cancel out his opponents' jiu-jitsu so far, showing his discipline on the ground.
These credentials far outweigh the wrestling chops of "Jacare." Jacare does has a judo black belt, though, which means he may be tough to take down.
Although Souza is experienced with judo and fighting wrestlers, Brunson gains the edge in wrestling.
When it comes to grappling, there are few middleweights in the world that are as skilled and feared as Ronaldo Souza. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt is a former ADCC grappling champion, and has submitted such foes as Robbie Lawler, Matt Lindland and Alexander Shlemenko.
Brunson, though a skilled wrestler, is not nearly as skilled in the submission game as Jacare. Brunson is more of a ground-and-pound guy, as well as a top-position fighter. It is not known how good he is off his back, but if he is like most wrestlers, he will be uncomfortable.
Souza will rarely be outgrappled in an MMA fight. Therefore, he earns the edge.
The first intangible is experience. Souza has almost double the fights Brunson has, is a former Strikeforce champion and has faced some notable competition. Brunson is a good fighter, but is far more inexperienced under the bright lights.
Secondly, athleticism is going to be a factor in this scuffle. Jacare Souza is very athletic, but Brunson is one of the most gifted athletes Strikeforce has to offer. His quickness and agility will be tough for Souza to handle, especially in the early going.
Lastly, it must be noted that Souza is coming off a win and Brunson is coming off his first career loss. That may be motivation for the American, who is also the huge underdog in this fight.
Souza already has his eyes set on Luke Rockhold. If he takes Brunson lightly for this fight, it will come back to haunt him.
This fight is seen by many as the massive favorite versus an underdog. This can be seen in the betting lines and on MMA sites all over.
But I really think Brunson's relentless takedowns and wrestling are going to be a big difference in this fight. Souza is going to test him on the feet and try to fight at a distance.
When Souza gets careless, Brunson will move in and wear him out. An energetic Brunson on top raining down blows will tire out Souza and get him frustrated.
I am going with the upset here. Brunson is young, hungry and bound for big things, and Souza is already overlooking him. Chalk one up for the Greg Jackson disciple.
Prediction: Brunson def. Souza via decision