Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

A Lack of Opponents for Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

A fighter I haven’t talked about much on this blog, but one I’m fond of, is Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace who has adapted very well to the sport of mixed martial arts. A former champion in Strikeforce, Souza was defeated by Luke Rockhold in September of last year, and since then, his opponent selection has been a bit underwhelming. No disrespect to Bristol Marunde, who Souza defeated in March, or Derek Brunson, Souza’s upcoming opponent this Saturday, but they are simply not fighters who are on Souza’s level.

This got me thinking… who exactly is there for “Jacare” to fight in the Strikeforce middleweight division? To answer the question, I went to the Strikeforce website to find a list of middleweights presumably under contract with the promotion. Here is the entire list, along with their corresponding current rank according to Fight Matrix:

  • Luke Rockhold (4)
  • Roger Gracie (17)
  • Tim Kennedy (18)
  • Lorenz Larkin (21)
  • Robbie Lawler (25)
  • Derek Brunson (41)
  • Keith Jardine (43)
  • Nate James (45)
  • Danillo Villefort (46)
  • Adlan Amagov (50)
  • Anthony Smith (52)
  • Bristol Marunde (70)
  • Lumumba Sayers (85)
  • Antwain Britt (278)
  • Keith Berry (NR)
  • Yancy Medeiros (NR)
  • Benji Radach (NR)

18 fighters – the above list along with “Jacare” – represent the entirety of the Strikeforce middleweight division. This is a good thing, given the relative lack of events Strikeforce is putting on these days. As a side note, I’ve been waiting to see Yancy Medeiros compete since I saw him on the preliminaries of the Fedor-Werdum event; I was impressed with his skills, but at this point, he hasn’t competed in over two years.

Anyway, let’s narrow the list down to just fighters ranked in the top 50. That gives us Rockhold, Gracie, Kennedy, Larkin, Lawler, Brunson, Jardine, James, Villefort, and Amagov. Now, “Jacare” has already fought Rockhold, Kennedy, and Lawler, so let’s remove them too.

Now, our list features Roger Gracie, Lorenz Larkin, Derek Brunson, Keith Jardine, Nate James, Danillo Villefort, and Adlan Amagov. Brunson happens to be Souza’s next opponent, and quite frankly, James, Villefort, and Amagov present the same problem, in that they aren’t on Souza’s level as a fighter and don’t have very much name value.

And in terms of fights I’m interested in, I’m sorry, but Keith Jardine just isn’t the guy at this point.

Ultimately, in Strikeforce’s middleweight division, the only fights that make sense for Souza (besides perhaps a rematch with Tim Kennedy) are against Roger Gracie or Lorenz Larkin. And of course, we just saw Gracie beat Jardine and Larkin beat Lawler, removing them as available opponents for this Saturday’s event.

Given the circumstances… all of a sudden, I can see Derek Brunson as the best available opponent to put against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The continued existence of Strikeforce as a side promotion for Zuffa is something that, to me, is little but a source of constant frustration at this point.


8 responses to “A Lack of Opponents for Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

  1. rocky mattioli August 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    i really don`t get the strikeforce hate…it`s been an excellent promotion over the years….and their undercards are as good(and in many cases better) than many ufc promotions….

    the match-ups in strikeforce seem to be more competitive….the matchmaking(at least it used to be before zuffa took over) was excellent pitting complementary styles against one another….

    diappointed that you`ve become another ufc snob…

    • David Williams August 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Another UFC snob? That’s why I’ve given Bellator so much praise for their ability to find talent, right?

      Strikeforce is owned by Zuffa. It’s been gutted of a lot of its talent. Instead of a talented fighter like Luke Rockhold battling the best middleweights in the world, who is he going to fight? Lorenz Larkin? Who is Gilbert Melendez fighting? Pat Healy? I was a fan of Strikeforce when it was a competitor to the UFC, because it had every incentive to become the best MMA promotion it could be. Now, as the UFC’s “little brother,” all it’s doing is keeping a few talented fighters in a holding pattern.

      Seriously, what is the point with Strikeforce right now? To keep a contract with Showtime so other promotions can’t be aired on the platform? I’m sorry, but if that’s the case, I’d much rather see Strikeforce merged with the UFC, so fighters like Rockhold and Melendez can get the fights and exposure they deserve. If that makes me a “UFC snob,” then fine. I’m a UFC snob.

  2. rocky mattioli August 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    yes,it will be absorbed, unfortunately…if white has his way,the ufc will be the only major org. left…….but,imo,strikeforce has had an excellent run….

    i don`t believe that a ufc monopoly will be good for mma(the fans or the fighters)…it may work in the nfl,but not the ufc(particularly with guys like white calling the shots)……..i enjoy seeing smaller,but still excellent organizations opearating outside the ufc`s perview….i`m not going to outline a littany of reasons in this short post,but the reasons are plentiful….and the “best fighting the best” argument doesn`t necessarily hold water….

    sorry about the “snob” comment(was a tad harsh)…i very much enjoy your columns and follow faithfully…

    • David Williams August 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      It’s all good. I have no desire to see the UFC turn into a monopoly. I’m just frustrated that fighters like Gilbert Melendez and Luke Rockhold are stuck in what has become a second-tier promotion with no aspirations. I fully support promotions like Bellator and higher-level regional promotions like Titan FC. As always, thanks for reading, much appreciated.

  3. rocky mattioli August 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    that`s “litany”,btw…lol….

  4. rocky mattioli August 17, 2012 at 6:10 am

    and” perview”?..good grief….lol..i need lay off the bath salts prior to posting…

    /keep up the good work….

  5. Mattv44 September 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I honestly believe Anthony Smith would be a great opponent for Souza

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