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Intelligent, unique MMA analysis
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:
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.