Former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, couldn’t have performed any better during his debut with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, making quick work out of Chris Camozzi at UFC on FX 8.
The first round submission victory (arm-triangle) established Jacare as one of the top middleweights in the world’s premier MMA organization, and he’ll face Japan’s Yushin Okami next if UFC president Dana White gets his way.
“That fight will happen… Okami and Jacare,” White said during a recent media scrum. “That’s the fight we’re going to make.”
A Souza vs. Okami fight certainly makes sense, considering the fact it’ll give Jacare a chance to prove he’s good enough to compete and defeat the best grapplers in the UFC’s middleweight division. Okami isn’t a submission specialist like Souza, but he’s clearly one of the best wrestlers at 185 pounds.
Okami has been on a tear of sorts lately, racking up wins against Buddy Roberts, Alan Belcher, and most recently, Hector Lombard. Unlike most Japanese MMA fighters who tend to favor submissions over positioning and control, Yushin has an Americanized style of wrestling which is known to cause problems for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners from time to time.
Jacare struggled during his 2011 title bout against Luke Rockhold — who used his wrestling in reverse to keep their fight standing. The decision loss ended up costing Jacare the Strikeforce middleweight belt. A showdown against Okami will give fans the opportunity to see how well he’s improved his wrestling since then.
What we do know is that Souza, who has stopped his four opponents since the 2011 loss to Rockhold (three submissions and a knockout), has made significant improvements in his striking. That should come in handy if he finds himself unable to take Okami down when they eventually square up.
If Jacare emerges victorious against Okami, his next bout could possibly be a number-one contender bout against fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort. In other words, with two more wins inside the Octagon, Souza could find himself fighting for the UFC’s middleweight title.