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UFC on FOX 27 results: What’s next for ‘Jacare’ after punting Derek Brunson’s head off in Charlotte?

Ronaldo Souza has some options after his big win on Saturday, but only one gives him the best path to a title shot.

UFC Fight Night: Souza v Brunson Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza proved he’s still a top contender in the 185 pound division with his quick and brutal head kick knockout of Derek Brunson at UFC on FOX 27. This was a rematch of a fight that went down originally in 2012 ... that match only lasted 41 seconds before Souza KO’d Brunson. This time it took the Brazilian three minutes more, but the result was the same.

“Jacare” might be 38 years old and more injury prone, but that’s not stopping him from getting the job done when he steps into the cage. He absolutely deserves to stay in the middleweight title conversation ... one that hasn’t gotten much simpler since Georges St-Pierre vacated the title, making Robert Whittaker the undisputed champion. Whittaker was supposed to defend his belt against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia, but a serious bout of staph in his stomach has him out and another interim title in play.

This may actually work out in Jacare’s favor, since he just lost to Whittaker in April of 2017. Assuming Whittaker’s stomach staph is as bad as it sounds (and man, stomach staph sounds horrible), the UFC may make the interim middleweight champ defend their belt, and Jacare is right there and ready to fight either Luke Rockhold (who he lost a five round decision to in 2011) or Yoel Romero (who also holds a split decision win over Souza from 2015).

But you know how interim belts are: once someone wins one, they tend to get very reluctant to fight again unless it’s to unify the title. That makes it more likely that the UFC will match Jacare up against either Chris Weidman or Kelvin Gastelum. Timing may come into play here: Weidman hasn’t fought since his July 2017 win over Gastelum, while Gastelum defeated Michael Bisping in November. Unless Jacare is willing to make a quick turnaround, the stars may not align to put him in the cage against Weidman.

Souza barely took any damage in his fight with Derek Brunson, and may be chomping at the bit for a quick turnaround to make the most of his dwindling time in the sport. But he’s clearly aiming for UFC gold in 2018, and the smart play in that regard would be to wait and see how the Rockhold vs. Romero fight on February 10th goes and an update on champ Robert Whittaker’s condition. For that reason, we’re thinking it’s more likely that Souza will end up fighting Kelvin Gastelum sometime in the Summer to maximize his chances of being next in line after the middleweight titles are unified.

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