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It's fun to think how "Jacare" matches up with the UFC's diverse roster of middleweights. A multitude of captivating, competitive fights are already within reach for the snarling jiu-jitsu alligator.
As I touched on earlier, there aren't a lot of fighters at 185 pounds who could predictably deny Souza's takedowns with regularity. Seasoned grapplers like Yushin Okamo and Chris Weidman, however, would provide a stiff challenge to Souza's grappling.
During his UFC tenure, Okami has been outwrestled by only Chael Sonnen, and Weidman has never been taken down in his UFC career. If Souza fights either man, a series of intense, grueling grappling exchanges could easily unfold.
Speaking of Sonnen, if he ever returns to middleweight, a clash between him and Souza would surely provide a prodigious grappling display. Imagine the classic juxtaposition between a hardened Olympic wrestler, Sonnen, and an ADCC caliber submission artist, "Jacare".
To keep it real, Weidman seems like an ideal opponent for "Jacare." Like Souza, Weidman owns ADCC grappling credentials. His skill is enough to survive and perhaps even threaten Souza on the canvas. I smile when I imagine the epic scrambles, reversals and sprawls this fight could deliver.
And don't worry: Even if their wrestling neutralizes each other and their fight is a striking match, it's bound to deliver more intensity than Weidman vs. Maia. Unlike Maia, Souza is explosive and capable as a striker, as is Weidman when he is afforded adequate time to prepare for a fight.
Moving on: Souza is bound to meet an adept striker in the Octagon. Alan Belcher, Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort and Cung Le are better strikers than any Souza has fought thus far (aside from Gegard Mousasi, maybe).
While their attempts to stuff Souza's takedowns may be futile, their ability to finish fights with a single swing will provide "Jacare" with a novel challenge; a challenge Souza will meet with either his own thudding punches or swift takedowns.
How will Souza approach a hellacious striker?
Alas, we'll likely never be treated to a match between Souza and his buddy, middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Silva employs a strict "no fighting friends" policy.
Furthermore, Silva has only a handful of fights left in his tyrannical reign over the UFC, and he's going to use them to make high-profile attractions. "Jacare," a relatively unknown commodity, doesn't meet Silva's quota.
Once Silva is displaced, "Jacare" is a dark horse title hopeful. His size, strength and anomalous skills give him a unique advantage over his middleweight adversaries.