Two of the UFC’s top welterweight collide in the under card of UFC on Fox 24 on April 15th, 2017 at the Sprint Center in Missouri.
3rd ranked Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza takes on the red hot 6th ranked Robert Whittaker in a bout that could cement a title shot for Souza or push Whitaker amongst the middleweight elites.
Waiting For His Shot
Jacare has been waiting for his title shot for too long and despite the controversial loss to Yoel Romero, this is the man who is the most deserving to face Michael Bisping for the belt. But with GSP given that opportunity now, Souza has decided to keep himself busy. And he’s decided to do so by taking a fight against one of the more dangerous punchers in the division.
Robert Whitaker’s move to middleweight has paid off, so far. After going 3-3 in his last six welterweight bouts, the hard hitting Australian moved up in weight class in 2014. Since then, he’s won five fights in a row with three stoppages. All three stoppages have earned him post fight bonuses. Whitaker is coming off a win over the equally powerful Derek Brunson but he’s definitely moving to a higher level fighting one of the best middleweights ever in Jacare Souza.
Jacare is currently a -245 favorite against Whittaker who is at +185. You can make a good argument for either fighter because both are currently on a good run.
Although he’s already 37 years of age, Jacare Souza is a prime example of consistency. Since losing to Luke Rockhold in his UFC debut in 2011, Souza has gone 10-1 with his only defeat the controversial split decision loss to Yoel Romero at UFC 194. Souza is considered one of the best grapplers in the sport with 70% of his victories ( 17 out of 24 ) coming by submission.
Robert Whittaker has powered his way to five straight wins in the middleweight division. But even if he’s coming off an explosive first round TKO of Derek Brunson, he hasn’t stepped inside the octagon with a highly decorated Jiu Jitsu practitioner like Ronaldo Souza. Sure, Whitaker possesses tremendous punching power and high volume striker but Jacare has seen it all inside that Octagon.
The main concern here is that Souza is making a quick return fight because he just fought last February. But given his track record, that should not be a problem. Souza’s age may sound like a red flag too as he could as they say grow old overnight during this fight. Given his consistency though, that’s unlikely.
Souza’s grappling skills meanwhile could be a big problem for Whittaker. Look, Robert Whittaker has good grappling and can win an ugly fight on the ground. It’s just unlikely he can do it against a true middleweight elite who has multiple Jiu Jitsu and grappling world titles on his resume. Souza’s grappling is second to none. It should be the key here. We’re picking Ronaldo Souza to beat Robert Whittaker.