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UFC 224: Jacare Souza eyes middleweight title fight with win over Kelvin Gastelum on May 12 in Rio

UFC Fight Night: Jacare v Brunson 2 Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Former Strikeforce Middleweight champion Ronaldo Souza always seems to be knocking on the door of earning his first-ever bid to win Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gold. But every time he’s on the verge, the Brazilian submission specialist comes up just short.

In fact, the two times he was close to securing a title bid he was knocked off by Yoel Romero and current champion Robert Whittaker — his only losses in the last six years — who are the two men who will fight in a 185-pound title bout at UFC 225 on June 9, 2018.

But now that he’s in a happy place, “Jacare” says big things are coming

“When I’m happy, no one can beat me,” Souza told MMAjunkie. “So in two fights, I’ll be middleweight champion of the UFC,” he revealed. Part of his newfound happiness comes from the fact that he switched up camps and now trains at Fusion X-Cel Performance.

“I found a great team here – a humble team, but with a great heart,” Souza said. “It’s been great to have this camp here. I feel great. It’s been a while since I had felt this good, physically – by that, I mean healthy. I was always doing well physically at X-Gym because we had great professionals, but I had a rough stretch, with multiple injuries, and that made it harder,” said the submission expert. “I was doing two fights a year, now I’m going into my second fight in a single semester, so that changed a lot.”

Being healthy is a big motivating factor, too, as he thought about hanging up his gloves for good after suffering some pretty bad injuries.

“I don’t really have this problem with the idea of stopping, because I don’t want to risk my health. I’d thought about stopping before, because I thought maybe I couldn’t fight at a high level anymore. That’s was what made me think about that. The day things start getting tough, I’ll stop,” he said.

The 38 year-old knows his days in MMA could stop at any given moment, but he feels revitalized and skilled enough to make a run at the strap before giving into to “natural order” of letting the younger generation of fighters come in and fill his void.

Up next for Souza is a 185-pound showdown against the always-dangerous Kelvin Gastelum, which is set to go down on the main card of the upcoming UFC 224 pay-per-view (PPV) event on May 12, 2018 in Rio de, Janeiro, Brazil.

“Kelvin Gastelum is a very tough guy, and there’s no one else to fight,” Souza said. “(Former champion Luke) Rockhold is going to move up a division, he was just knocked out. (Former champion) Chris Weidman is injured, going through another surgery in his hand. Gastelum is the guy now. He’s the guy who’s ready to fight, and those who aren’t, lose their turn.”

Should he get a win over the former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) champion, Souza says he will wait to see if a champion bout is in store for him before he sings on the dotted line for another scrap.

“No, no, I won’t take another fight,” Souza said. “I have to win this fight and then wait to see what happens.”

Currently ranked at No. 2 behind only Whittaker and Romero, it seems Souza has a very good case for a championship bout if he can take out Gastelum.

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