Despite how close he was to a UFC title shot last year, Brazilian veteran Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza nearly called an end to his career.
The 38-year-old middleweight contender was riding high in 2017 before Robert Whittaker got a hold of him at UFC on FOX 24. Souza not only lost to the now UFC champion via knockout, but he also suffered a pectoral injury that resulted in surgery.
Until now, we really didn’t know how Souza dealt with his recent misfortune.
”When I got injured, Dr. Rickson (Moraes) said I’d needed surgery,” Souza told MMA Fighting. “That was seven weeks before my fight with Tim Boetsch. I said ‘no’ and decided to do physical therapy, but I couldn’t really train for that fight. I even was a bit fat in the fight. But I was fine, didn’t feel any pain in the arm or chest, and was able to submit him. When I was set to fight Whittaker, I started to train hard and get in shape, but it started to dig a hole in my chest and I lost power.”
That loss of power ultimately ended in Souza’s demise. And even though the Brazilian remained a valued asset at 185 pounds, the injury was enough to force him to think about retirement.
”I thought about stop fighting because it was a long surgery,” Souza said. “When I came back to training, seven months later, my trainer asked me to run for 10 minutes, and I called him back, ‘Brother, I can’t even run for five minutes, it hurts so bad and I’m tired’ [laughs]. It was complicated for me to return.”
”I was thinking about retirement. It was really hard,” he continued. “I thought about it for a while, it was too complicated. I had to undergo surgery many times. I had never suffered any injury throughout my career, was always healthy, and all of a sudden I had a lot of injuries. I said, ‘Man, I don’t want to go to the surgery table and go through all this again.’”
“Jacare” admits that it wasn’t the first time in his career that he’s thought about hanging it up. But like he always seems to do, the Brazilian returned to his feet, dusted himself off, and got back to work.
”Throughout my entire career, I thought about quitting many times,” Souza said. “In jiu-jitsu, I thought about quitting almost every month because it was too hard for me. I was away from my family in Manaus, I was a world champion and didn’t even have money to catch a bus. But I thought that I’m still healthy, training well, so there’s no reason to stop. I still have gasoline to burn. I only lost to the champion, so I can fight at the high level.”
Souza is currently scheduled to take on middleweight knockout artist Derek Brunson in a main event scrap at UFC on FOX 27 on Jan. 27. Another spectacular finish over a proven contender like Brunson could land “Jacare” right back in title contention.