Ronaldo Souza will be putting a lot on the line later tonight (Sat., April 27, 2019) at UFC on ESPN+ 8 live on ESPN+ from inside BB&T Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he faces off with dangerous finisher Jack Hermansson in the main event.
While Hermansson is a suitable opponent for anyone at 185 pounds, especially considering “Joker” holds key finishes over David Branch and Thales Leites, he doesn’t offer much upside for a fighter like Souza. After all, “Jacare” has defeated some of the best fighters in the world, including Gegard Mousasi, Chris Weidman, Derek Brunson, and Vitor Belfort, en route to a 9-3 UFC record, losing to only Kelvin Gastelum, Yoel Romero, and current UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.
So why did Souza decide to accept a short-notice replacement fight with an ultra-dangerous fighter like Hermansson? Maybe it’s because UFC guaranteed “Jacare” his first ever title shot with a win this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale.
”It was really stressing for me,” Souza told MMA Fighting leading up to this weekend. “I didn’t like what happened, at all, but accepted the fight. When they promised me a title shot, that’s what made me accept it. That’s it.”
“They really wanted this fight, they insisted a lot. It was a negotiation and we accepted it. I talked to everyone. I talked to Mick Maynard, who talked to Dana White and Hunter (Campbell), everyone there. Everyone in the UFC promised me the belt if I won, and that’s something no one ever did to me before.”
As for the fight itself, Souza is not overlooking Hermansson by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, after hearing that “Joker” is confident in mixing it up with the legendary Brazilian on the ground “Jacare” revealed that he will be worried about the Swede’s grappling capabilities when the two tangle tonight on ESPN+.
”I believe him. I do believe him. There’s a lot of crazy people out there,” Souza said. “But I fear his jiu-jitsu. I respect his jiu-jitsu. He has great submissions, he’s long and can surprise anyone. However, brother, going to the ground with me is complicated. When I start squeezing … good luck. I’m there to finish the fight, and I don’t think he can handle it.
”I’m putting my career at risk,” Souza added. “I’ve been fighting in the UFC for six years and I’m fighting the No. 10 in the division, but I’ll go there and beat him up. There’s no other option.”
If Souza is able to knock off Hermansson later tonight and UFC keeps its promise to the Brazilian then he’ll be in line to face the winner of this year’s title unification bout between middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and interim titleholder Israel Adesanya.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN+ 8 fight card, starting with the ESPN2 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 5:30 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN “Prelims” at 7 p.m. ET, before the ESPN+ main card start time of 9 p.m. ET.