Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will get his first true UFC test at Fight Night 28 in Brazil, when he tangles with veteran middleweight Yushin Okami. Souza was victorious in his Octagon debut, taking care of Chris Camozzi in the first round in a Submission of the Night performance. Souza, a former stalwart in Dream and a former Strikeforce champion, entered the organization with plenty of hype, thanks to his seemingly unrivaled submission skills and his standout jiu-jitsu. He’s a multiple gold medal winner at the ADCC submission championships and the World jiu-jitsu championships.
In facing Okami, Souza draws a difficult assignment, as “Thunder” has been a fixture in the UFC’s middleweight top-10 rankings for a number of years. After losing in a title shot against then middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and suffering a shocking TKO loss to Tim Boetsch, Okami has rebounded nicely with three straight victories. He registered a decision win over Hector Lombard his last time out. Okami, who possesses a far more grinding style than a flashy one, believes a victory over Souza will allow him to work his way back into the title picture. The 185 pound division definitely has a new feel to it with Chris Weidman as the champion.
“Jacare” has shown improved power in his striking game in his last few fights. His amazing ground game will be quite a challenge for Okami, who is known for his suffocating wrestling style. In the past, Okami has shown an ability to completely shut down an opponent’s offense, and to make their lives miserable in the process; he’s also never been submitted. While Souza’s stand up game has gotten better, Okami is no slouch in that department, possessing a solid jab.
This is a very significant matchup in the middleweight division — one that will tell us whether there’s a new star at 185 pounds in Souza, or whether the old guard in Okami is indeed poised to make one more title run. With the prospects of a potential ground battle, it’ll be intriguing to see how this high-stakes chess match will play out in Brazil.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports