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The Legacy of Jacare Souza, & the Importance of a Win vs. Jack Hermansson

The UFC middleweight division has been the home to many legendary fighters ever since Dave Menne claimed the inaugural belt at UFC 33 in 2001. The likes of legendary Brazilians like Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida, and Murilo Bustamante were staples of the division for many years, as well as fighters in recent memory like Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold, and current titleholder Robert Whittaker. One man that has always soared amongst the highest ranked middleweights since the dawn of the decade, and has even claimed gold in other major promotions, but despite his success, has still fallen short of his ultimate goal, a UFC title.

A post shared by Ronaldo Jacaré 🐊 (@ronaldojacare) on Feb 11, 2017 at 4:17pm PST

On Saturday, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza can take another step toward the designation that has always eluded him since his UFC debut in 2013. According to Souza and UFC President Dana White, a win would finally mean an imminent and long deserved title opportunity for Jacare. As mentioned above, Jacare has long been considered amongst the best middleweights in the world, if not amongst the best of all time. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend has carved out a career as a lethal finisher, using his highly acclaimed guard game, as well as a newly well-developed striking prowess, punctuated with a newfound proficiency for the knockout.

Due to his ground skill, opponents are hesitant to take the crocodile down. 14 of Jacare’s 26 wins have come by way of submission. This, for my money, is the biggest x-factor in his fight with Jack Hermansson, a man who claims to have the best ground and pound in the UFC. Hermansson is also on a hot streak of his own, owning 3 consecutive wins over the likes of Thales Leites, Gerald Meerschaert, and David Branch. What do all 3 men have in common? They’re all Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, all with a high level guard game and a great submission arsenal, and Hermansson finished them all.

A post shared by jack hermansson (@jackthejokermma) on Apr 8, 2019 at 11:54pm PDT

So, while a semi-casual UFC fan may look at this main event and say, “Oh, Jacare has been around for a long time, he has the experience, he should get the finish,” it’s certainly not that easy. While Jacare does have the experience factor, and is the more credentialed fighter in every regard, Jack Hermansson is dangerous, and is in the best form of his career at the moment, with all of his wins coming against stylistically similar fighters to Jacare. It’s also worth noting the factor of pressure in this fight. With Jacare being promised a title opportunity with a win, the world will be on his shoulders against a man competing in his first UFC main event.

A post shared by MMA on ESPN (@espnmma) on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:20pm PDT

Jacare is quite arguably the greatest UFC fighter to never hold a title, and while the former Strikeforce champion has fought in many title eliminator fights and come up short, this one in particular seems exceptionally crucial, as the aging middleweight may never be this close to the apex again. In this writer’s opinion, Jacare Souza is a definite UFC Hall of Famer. A win and an eventual title opportunity would solidify that status with no argument.

A post shared by Ronaldo Jacaré 🐊 (@ronaldojacare) on Feb 11, 2019 at 12:53pm PST

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