Ronald Souza will be blazing a new career path later tonight (Sat., Nov. 16, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 164 live on ESPN+ from inside Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when he makes his move up to the light heavyweight division to take on proven contender Jan Blachowicz in the main event.
Needless to say, this is a very important fight for the man known as “Jacare.” Not only is Souza trying to shake off a 2-3 record in his last five Octagon appearances, but at the age of 38 the Brazilian legend doesn’t have much time left to make his final push for a UFC title shot. Remember, “Jacare,” despite his vast accomplishments throughout his 16-year professional career, has never competed for a UFC title.
That may all change in 2020 if the veteran fighter is able to move up in weight and take out Blachowicz this weekend on friendly Brazilian soil.
“I’m happy because everything has changed in my life,” Souza said in a UFC promotional video earlier this week. “This fight against Jan is very important for me. The UFC gave me the opportunity to fight in a light heavyweight main event – a tough fight in my hometown.”
Souza, who is widely considered one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to ever crossover into professional MMA, hasn’t been his dominant self on the ground in recent Octagon appearances. That’s not because “Jacare” has lost the skills to wrap opponents up, it’s due to the fact that he often gets caught in fire fights on the feet. And even though the Brazilian submission specialist packs a serious punch he’s always going to do better in close quarters.
“Sometimes, I use too (much) striking,” Souza explained. “Sometimes, I win. Sometimes, I lose. But right now, I’m back to my roots. I use a lot of jiu-jitsu. I train a lot of jiu-jitsu. I believe everything is going to be different right now.”
If Souza is able to tap back into his grappling wizardry that got him here in the first place then all UFC light heavyweights better be on high alert. Because even though “Jacare” hasn’t recorded a submission finish since slapping a kimura on Tim Boetsch back in 2017 the Brazilian remains one takedown away from finishing any one of his opponents.
With a new division in front of him and just a few years left at peak performance, Souza is hoping to channel his old self this weekend at UFC Sao Paulo and get back to where he once was.
“I’m happy, and if I’m happy it’s hard to beat me,” Souza said. “I have to go there and beat Jan and make me more happy. When I think about this, my mind is blowing. Whatever he brings to the octagon, I overcome.
“I’m ready for the fight and to show everybody ‘Jacare’ is back.”
To see who else is fighting at UFC Sao Paulo click here.