Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) recently finalized the middleweight title fight between reigning 185-pound titleholder, Robert Whittaker, and top division contender, Kelvin Gastelum, for the upcoming UFC 234 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, going down Sunday, Feb. 10, 2018 inside Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Hopefully, both competitors will be ship-shape come fight night.
If not, the promotion may be looking to call on one someone in the Top 5 to fill in on super short notice, which would require a full camp, a grueling weight cut, and the probability that nothing will happen, resulting in a “show” purse.
Sorry, but Ronaldo Souza is not interested.
“I’m a plan A, man,” Souza told MMA Fighting. “I will fight for the belt. I want to wait for my chance. Romero defeats me in a robbery and fights for the belt. Gastelum wins a split decision, a close fight — and I thought I should have won — and he fights for the belt. If Chris Weidman had beat me, he would have fought for the belt, and I’m the No. 5 in the rankings. I knocked him out. Why am I not going to fight for the belt? Why? For what reason?”
Souza joins Israel Adesanya in the “thanks, but no thanks” club.
Whittaker was hit with some health issues in 2017 but has otherwise proved to be fairly durable. Gastelum struggled to make weight at 170 pounds, but put those setbacks in the rear-view mirror upon his return to the 185-pound weight class.
As for Souza, the Brazilian holds an impressive 9-3 record under the UFC banner, including his recent destruction of ex-champion Chris Weidman. Unfortunately, “Jacare’s” three losses have come against Whittaker, Gastelum, and Yoel Romero, the middleweight big three.
Considering how close his Gastelum fight proved to be (recap), perhaps a changing of the guard at UFC 234 will be his best chance of working his way into a division title shot.