Last night (Feb. 15, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Ronaldo Souza and Francis Carmont squared off for high stakes in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 36 from Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil.
To watch full fight video highlights for Ronaldo Souza vs. Francis Carmont right now click here.
Both Souza and Carmont brought impressive win streaks into the bout. "Jacare" had five finishes in a row while Carmont had won 11 straight mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts. Due to a couple of questionable decisions, however, Carmont's win streak wasn't nearly as convincing as Souza's.
Pivotal rankings implications were on the line with the No. 3-ranked "Jacare" a big favorite over No. 8-ranked Carmont. In the end, Souza used his world-class ground skills to teach Carmont a hard lesson in grappling. Let's take a look back at "Jacare's" latest and greatest Octagon win.
The fight began slowly with Carmont looking for some leg kicks. Souza went for a spinning kick and quickly dragged Carmont to the ground, taking his back. Ground master "Jacare" was in his world, softening Carmont up for the rear naked choke. Carmont defended well and Souza pushed the action up against the cage, throwing shots. "Jacare" went for the choke again, this time locking it on tight. For a moment it looked like Carmont would be finished, but he persevered, to actually end the lopsided first round on top.
The second frame saw Carmont come out aggressive, looking for high and low kicks. "Jacare" threw a big shot and missed a takedown. Souza rushed in, throwing heavy punches and a wheel kick. Carmont went for a takedown that was easily avoided. Souza landed his overhand right and clinched against the cage, but Carmont responded well with punches of his own. Carmont was beginning to find his range, landing his jab. "Jacare" went to work with body shots and more clinch work towards the end of the round.
The final round kicked off with Carmont showing a bit of urgency and "Jacare" looking for more big body shots. Souza got a big double leg takedown and took Carmont's back again, landing huge power punches. He couldn't lock up a rear naked choke but held onto dominant position to smother "Limitless" and secure a body triangle. Two choke attempts followed as the final minute wound down, earning the clear-cut unanimous decision for Souza.
"Jacare" put on an impressive display of his top-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills, taking Carmont to the mat and gaining advantageous positions seemingly at will. While he wasn't able to lock up the submission, Souza went for it until the final bell. His striking didn't appear as explosive as it had recent bouts, but Carmont was no doubt a very tough opponent.
Souza should get a huge bout soon; there's not much else for him to prove after dominant showings in all three of his UFC bouts. He stated his desire for the belt in his post-fight interview, but he also noted that he had fragments in his arm that could keep him out for some time. If he's healthy, a bout with the winner of the upcoming Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy bout would make sense for Souza.
For Carmont the loss is a disheartening one, but he showed a ton of resiliency in avoiding multiple choke attempts from an all-world grappling champion. He's the only man to last an entire three rounds with "Jacare" in his last six fights, so he shouldn't drop too far in the rankings.
It was his biggest fight and he was never able to mount any significant offense, meaning Carmont needs to go back to the drawing board with Georges St. Pierre and Firas Zahabi at Montreal's TriStar Gym. With only one loss in his last twelve bouts, Carmont should be poised to bounce back soon with a bout against a low-ranked opponent.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza remained undefeated in UFC with a grappling clinic over the quietly dangerous Francis Carmont. What will be next for Souza on his quest towards gold?