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UFC on FOX 24 results from last night: Ronaldo Souza vs Robert Whittaker fight recap

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Souza vs Whittaker Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight contenders Ronaldo Souza and Robert Whittaker dueled last night (April 15, 2017) at UFC on FOX 24 inside Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Souza has been tearing up the Middleweight division for years now, but the title shot has always been just out of reach. He’s been taking fights to stay active and not slip further down the line, but Whittaker was definitely a higher level of fighter than Souza’s recent foes. Whittaker is the divisional dark horse no longer. Heading into this match up on a lengthy win streak, Whittaker had already proven himself as a top-ranked Middleweight. With this fight, however, Whittaker looked to show that he was a true contender to the throne.

Whittaker opened the fight with a good deal of movement, looking to move in-and-out with some sneaky punches. Nevertheless, Souza was able to move him to the fence, where a chain of takedown attempts allowed him to take the back.

Miraculously, Whittaker managed to slip out of the position and escape to his feet.

Back in the stand up, Whittaker began to land some good punches. Souza was responding with the occasional right hand counter, but for the most part Whittaker’s quick combinations allowed him to get off the better shots.

It was a strong start for the Aussie.

Not long into the second round, Whittaker dropped his opponent with a massive cross. Whittaker allowed him back to his feet, where the barrage continued. “The Reaper” stalked his foe, battering him with combinations and kicks, doing damage even if he was unable to force the finish.

The pace slowed for a little while, as Whittaker landed quick shots but generally allowed Souza to recover his bearings. Then, after scoring with a hard combination, Whittaker pressured and set up a beautiful left high kick. Souza stumbled into the fence, where Whittaker flurried with heavy punches, sending his foe to the mat. This time, Whittaker followed into the guard and continued smashing his opponent, quickly forcing a stoppage.

Middleweight has a brand new title threat.

This was a damn near flawless performance from the Aussie. Heading into the fight, the game plan of both men was certainly obvious, but Whittaker executed masterfully. His ability to control range was superb, as Souza missed a ton of punches and rarely had an opening for the shot. Even on the occasion that Souza did get in on a takedown, Whittaker defended beautifully and went right back to work.

This was really the fight where Whittaker put it all together. Every part of his kickboxing worked; his front snap kicks, leaping left hooks, sneaky high kicks, and rolling right hands all landed to great effect. Souza may not be the most technical striker, but he’s definitely dangerous and solid there, but Whittaker made him look mediocre.

That’s a massive accomplishment.

Moving forward, there’s certainly a fair argument that Whittaker deserves a title shot. I certainly wouldn’t be against it. More likely, however, is that Whittaker ends up in a title eliminator match with either Gegard Mousasi or Yoel Romero.

Either way, I’m excited.

As for Souza, this was a really poor showing. There was really only one highlight for him, in which he pulled half guard and chained takedown attempts together to land in a dominant position. Had he locked down the position, there’s a fair chance we’d be talking about Souza’s incredible submission ability.

Instead, Whittaker escaped, and it all fell apart. On the feet, Souza was too focused on landing one big punch, and it slowed him down. Against a foe who already held the speed advantage, that proved to be disastrous. Over and over, Whittaker was able to leap in and land hard power punches, while Souza’s counter shot came up short.

At that point, Souza either need to bite down and fire combinations — to set up the takedown — or go full desperation and shoot from far out, hoping to chain the shot like he did earlier. Patiently waiting for one big shot or double leg opportunity was not the answer.

This is a devastating loss that removes Souza from title contention. His best hope should be a rematch with Luke Rockhold, as a win there could get him back in the mix. Otherwise, the 37 year old may be running out of time.

Last night at UFC on FOX 24, Robert Whittaker battered and finished his opponent in the second. What’s next for “The Reaper?”

For complete UFC on FOX 24: “Johnson vs Reis” results and live play-by-play, click HERE!

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