Souza is experienced and dangerous against any middleweight
Ronaldo Souza is perhaps the most accomplished jiu-jitsu practitioner who has since translated his accolades from the mat to the cage.
In 2008, "Jacare" made it to the finals for DREAM's first middleweight tournament, where sixteen of some of the best fighters and prospects assembled to determine the promotion's rightful champion.
Souza dominated Ian Murphy, Jason "Mayhem" Miller and Zelg Galesic before succumbing to a shocking knockout loss to future Strikeforce titleholder Gegard Mousasi.
Since then, Ronaldo is undefeated and is now a perfect 4-0 under the Zuffa umbrella. After submitting UFC veteran Matt Lindland and going the distance with Greg Jackson product Joey Villasenor, Souza vied for the promotion's vacant title, edging out the always-tough Tim Kennedy for five rounds, cinching the belt with the win.
In his last outing, Souza submitted the hard-hitting Robbie Lawler in the third round of a back-and-forth battle. However, as it stands, the Brazilian has little to no competition that can match his world class skills.
That's where Rockhold steps in. The American Kickboxing Academy product is on an incredible 6-0 streak inside the San Jose-based promotion, though he has not seen the inside of those six walls of chain-linked fence in some time. Subsequent injuries and bouts that failed to materialize bring Luke to the precipice of his career now, challenging for a major world title.
He's great in all areas and weak in few, but his lack of experience and time away from the cage are huge question marks leading into the bout. While Rockhold has looked outstanding against UFC vets Paul Bradley and Jesse Taylor, those bouts are hardly any indication that he is ready for a fighter of the acumen of Souza, a world-class grappler with great takedowns and a much-improved stand-up arsenal.
In reality, this is Ronaldo's fight to lose, but he won't allow the victory to leave his gator-like grip.
Pick: Souza, Rd. 3 Submission