Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Ronaldo Souza and Chris Camozzi will clash this Saturday night (April 18, 2015) at UFC on FOX 15 inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Since losing his Strikeforce strap, Souza has been on a vicious tear. He's won seven straight fights -- including a win over his upcoming opponent -- and finished six of those middleweights.
Again, including Camozzi.
On the other hand, a mixture of questionable judging and poor performances led to a four-fight skid and Camozzi's release from UFC. Since then, he's finished two opponents, which put him in a good position to receive a last-second call up such as this.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters.
Record: 21-3 (1)
Key Wins: Chris Camozzi (UFC on FX 8), Gegard Mousasi (UFC Fight Night 50), Yushin Okami (UFC Fight Night 28)
Key Losses: Luke Rockhold (Strikeforce: Barnett vs Kharitonov)
Keys to Victory: Souza is one of the most technical jiu-jitsu players in the entire division, resulting in 15 submission wins. In addition, he's a very explosive athlete whose striking has developed very nicely.
There's really not a lot to think about in this match up. In their first fight, "Jacare" stunned Camozi with fast, hard punches, slammed him down to the mat, and then quickly submitted his opponent. For the most part, neither man has really switched up their games much, but Souza has gotten even sharper.
That spells bad news for Camozzi.
Souza put on a show in his last bout with Camozzi, and he should be able to replicate that result. In reality, "Jacare" doesn't really have to set up his takedowns with strikes like he did last time, Souza has the power and technique to blast his opponent off his feet.
Once Souza is on top of his opponent, it's basically game over. Camozzi is a tough dude, but Souza is simply another level of grappler.
Tap, snap, or nap.
Key Wins: Nick Ring (UFC 158) Luiz Cane (UFC 153), Nick Catone (UFC on FX 4)
Key Losses: Ronaldo Souza (UFC on FX 8), Rafael Natal (UFC Fight Night 50), Francis Carmont (UFC 137)
Keys to Victory: Camozzi is a dangerous Muay Thai striker with an above average jiu-jitsu game. For the most part, Camozzi relies on his toughness and conditioning to earn the victory.
That won't be enough to defeat "Jacare."
If Camozzi attempts to fight a measured, technical bout, he's going to get blown out of the water once again. Instead, it's up to the former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) contestant to make something happen.
In order to pull off a wild upset of some kind, Camozzi cannot afford to show any respect to Souza on his feet. Anytime Souza feints or throws a strike, Camozzi needs to step forward and attack. If he's the one reacting, he'll be on his back before long.
Furthermore, Camozzi should be committing to power strikes as often as possible. If they're strikes that can also deter takedown attempts -- such as Camozzi's step knee -- then that's a bonus.
It's a long shot, but Camozzi needs to do something dramatic.
Bottom Line: This match up was only made -- both times -- due to an injury. It's a huge opportunity for Camozzi, while "Jacare" has another chance to showcase his skill.
It's unfortunate for the Brazilian that Yoel Romero pulled out, as a win in that bout would've likely earned him a title shot. Instead, he's really in a no-win situation; he already holds a dominant win over his opponent, while a loss would ruin his momentum.
Luckily, the odds are definitely on his side.
On the other hand, Camozzi has been given a second chance, both in the UFC and to break into the rankings. Furthermore, a shocking victory over Souza would undoubtedly help remove the memories of the disappointing end to his last UFC run.
If Camozzi does lose, it's not some terrible fate for him. Instead of having to grind away on the regional scene, he's back in the Octagon and has earned some props for stepping up.
At UFC on FOX 15, Ronaldo Souza and Chris Camozzi will go to war for the second time. Which fighter will have his hand raised?