This Friday, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, squares off against the former DREAM middleweight and light heavyweight champion as well as the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, Gegard Mousasi. They'll be facing off in the main event of a stacked UFC Fight Night 50 card.
This will be a rematch of an earlier fight, as Souza and Mousasi met back in 2008 with the DREAM middleweight title on the line. The fight lasted just over two minutes and ended with a knockout victory for Mousasi.
That is one of only three losses on Souza's record, the other two coming in his first professional fight and then in 2011 when he lost his Strikeforce title to Luke Rockhold. You can be sure he's eager to try and get that blemish off his record, as it was a particularly brutal knockout.
Souza is currently ranked No. 4 in the division behind only Anderson Silva, the former champion, Lyoto Machida, the most recent title challenger and Vitor Belfort, the next title challenger.
Souza has gone 3-0 in the Octagon, having earned a first-round technical submission over Chris Camozzi, a first-round TKO over Yushin Okami and most recently a unanimous decision over Francis Carmont.
Mousasi is ranked No. 7 in the division, and is 2-1 in his UFC tenure, 1-1 in the middleweight division. He lost his first middleweight UFC fight to Machida, but he absolutely trounced Mark Munoz en route to a first-round submission in his most recent fight.
If Souza wins this fight, does that make him the clear-cut No. 1 contender in the middleweight division?
With a win, Souza will be 4-0 in the UFC middleweight division. The only other people in the top 15 with a win streak of four or more in the Octagon are the champ, Chris Weidman, No. 10-ranked Yoel Romero, and No. 12-ranked Thales Leites. Souza is significantly higher up the ladder than Romero and Leites and generally faces tougher competition.
In addition, Souza's finish of Okami is hugely impressive. Although Okami isn't in the UFC anymore, Souza is one of only four people to finish Okami in his 38-fight career. He also did it faster than Anderson Silva.
Jacare has been improving and has gotten better in every single fight in the UFC thus far. Against Okami he showed that his striking is improving and that he is a serious threat anywhere the fight may take place.
In his fight against Francis Carmont, he displayed improved takedowns and takedown defense, as he was able to land two of his four takedown attempts while stuffing Carmont's only attempt, which came up against the fence.
With a win, Jacare will deserve the next title shot and will likely get it. The only exception would be if Belfort beats Weidman in December at UFC 181, then Weidman will likely receive a rematch, given the UFC's fondness for immediate title rematches.
Even if Weidman does get the rematch, Jacare will still be the No. 1 contender and the most deserving to fight for the title after Belfort.
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