Two fighters on completely opposite ends of the middleweight spectrum collided last night (August 12, 2012) as former champion Ronaldo Souza battled up-and-comer Derek Brunson in the co-main event of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman in San Diego, California.
Brunson, training out of Greg Jackson's gym, had said he'd be more than ready for an opportunity like this against a former divisional kingpin.
With one right hand, "Jacare" squashed those dreams, scoring the first big knockout of his career since he switched to mixed martial arts from Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
So how did Souza score his first emphatic finish via strikes? And what happens next for both middleweights?
Follow me after the jump for our Ronaldo Souza vs. Derek Brunson Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman post-fight review and analysis
Brunson came out swinging early, throwing a head kick and a punching combination right off the bat, although Souza patiently waited like a coiled viper.
After just missing with a pair of big right hands, commentator Pat Miletich complimented Souza saying "Lefties are vulnerable to the right," which of course, set the stage for a ridiculous finish.
As Brunson stepped in again with the same combination as earlier, Souza timed it beautifully with a right hand that cracked him on the jaw, dropping him. Just as Brunson started to get back to his feet, another right hand dumped him onto his back and then a pair of punches put him out for good.
It took just 41 seconds for this mismatch to transpire.
For Derek Brunson, this was clearly a case of too much too soon. Sure, he held his own against Kendall Grove on short notice a couple months back, but "Jacare" is a former world champion and a world class athlete. There's no doubt he's one of the best middleweights in the world and Brunson simply wasn't ready for that caliber of opponent yet. Of course, it doesn't help when you rush forward with your hand down and your chin up in the air. That definitely helped Souza out.
For Jacare Souza, this was a fantastic showcase of his improvements. Not only did he score the knockout, he displayed some serious striking skills in the process. His very subtle head movement was insane here as he deftly avoided the strike from Brunson while responding with one of his own directly to the jaw. It couldn't have been placed any better. His accuracy at the end was equally impressive, landing nearly every follow-up strike to put Brunson away.
There's no doubt the next fight for Souza has to be a rematch against Luke Rockhold, the man who defeated him for the title. Don't let time allow the closeness of their last fight be forgotten. It could have gone either way. Now that Souza's striking has taken itself to another level, there's some serious potential that he could be champion again real soon.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Was this a case of Strikeforce once again throwing a prospect into a mismatch against a superior opponent? What did you make of the improvements in Souza's striking?