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'Jacare' Souza inks exclusive sponsorship deal with Reebok, pegged as 'face of UFC in Brazil'

Souza joins an elite cast of fighters who have aligned themselves with the official outfitter of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Reebok, the official outfitter of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), continues to bolster its oft-criticized partnership with the leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, signing top-tier Octagon talent, including its latest addition, No. 2-ranked middleweight Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza.

The solo sponsorship deal was made official in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil -- site of UFC 190 this past weekend (Sat., Aug. 1, 2015) -- late last week. The Brazilian joins a cast of elite fighters such as fellow international stars Conor McGregor, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rory MacDonald who have aligned themselves with Reebok.

"We think ‘Jacare' fits very nicely into what we're doing, and for us he'll be the face of UFC in Brazil, so it's a big deal," senior director of Reebok combat training Michael Lunardelli told MMA Fighting. "He's maybe one of the greatest jiu-jitsu artists who ever lived. He's amazing. He's a tactician of the sport."

Now the potent Souza -- who becomes part of Reebok's apparel arsenal -- has some added incentive to continue his assault on the 185-pound division. The 35-year-old has taken out the likes of Yushin Okami and Gegard Mousasi on his run to the top of the 185-pound rankings.

Souza is still on the mend following May knee surgery and expects to make his return to the Octagon in September. He faces a crowded title picture when he returns partly because of the successes of Yoel Romero and former foe Luke Rockhold.

Rockhold is still expected to draw middleweight champion Chris Weidman in December. Unless UFC President Dana White has a change of heart, it appears unlikely that Souza will get a title shot.

In the meantime, the profound ground expert can test his heavy hands against those of Romero, who he was previously scheduled to face at UFC on FOX 15, before the Cuban bowed out because of a torn meniscus.

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