Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone, as UFC 224 blew the roof off Jeunesse Arena last Saturday night (May 12, 2018) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Raquel Pennington, who was beat from pillar to post by women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes in the UFC 224 main event (see it again here). And Vitor Belfort, who was sent into retirement by Lyoto Machida after he was knocked out by a front kick to the face (recap).
But which fighter is suffering from one of the worst post-fight hangovers, now two days removed from the show?
Going into his Middleweight showdown against Kelvin Gastelum, it was a foregone conclusion that the winner would get next dibs at a title shot by facing the winner of the upcoming showdown between division kingpin Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero.
A UFC world title fight has eluded Souza since he stepped foot inside the Octagon in 2013. And to be honest, I figured “Jacare” would’ve competed for a UFC belt by now. But in the Octagon, getting there is no easy task, and just when it seemed Souza was knocking on the door it would once again go unanswered as he came up short when he ran into Yoel Romero and then Robert Whittaker.
Against Gastelum, not only did he have a reach advantage, but he had the hometown crowd behind him. But after he failed to execute on an armbar after working so hard, it seemed the jiu-jitsu ace blew his load. Indeed, for the remainder of the bout, Souza was huffing and puffing his way to the finish line.
While it wasn’t dominant, Gastelum did escape with a split decision victory which was a surprise to many seeing as how Souza was fighting in his backyard. Nevertheless, the loss is just the latest setback for Souza, who was clearly gunning for a title fight. Now, he will have to start from scratch, and the climb back up will be tougher than ever with contenders rising left and right. And it’s going to sting a bit more when he sees Kelvin fighting for the title later this year.
As for what’s next for the submission specialist, perhaps a showdown against former division champion Chris Weidman is in order. The two have shown interest in fighting one another in the past, and it makes sense on many levels. Weidman’s last victory came against the aforementioned Gastelum, and while “All American” also has his eyes on the big prize, it’s not in his immediate future as his win over Kelvin was his first in four tries over the past two years.
The ex-champion is currently trying to get over his nagging thumb injury before he returns to action, which should give the aging Souza enough time to lick his wounds and get the urge to fight again.
I really like this fight and I hope it gets booked. Unless, of course, you have a better idea?