Much to the chagrin of those who enjoy exciting fights, Francis Carmont has improbably built a 6-0 record in the UFC. Carmont has largely succeeded by shutting down his opponent’s offense. He’s only absorbed 1.3 significant strikes per minute and been taken down just three times. Carmont is an enormous middleweight and has used his size to control the takedown game.
This results in fights like Carmont vs. Lorenz Larkin, in which Carmont won by decision despite landing just 12 significant strikes and two takedowns. Or his victory over Tom Lawlor, in which Carmont out-struck Lawlor 34-20 while Lawlor landed two takedowns and attempted two submissions. Many fans believed Carmont deserved to lose both of those fights.
For those who are frustrated by Carmont’s continued success, all I can say is: your long national nightmare is over. Probably. It’s very difficult to see Carmont’s game working against the likes of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for a number of reasons.
First, Jacare has developed serious striking skills and is almost certainly more threatening than Carmont on the feet. His overall significant strike ratio of 301:261 is decent but that ratio has improved to 101:34 in his last five fights. Jacare has also developed real knockout power as he’s defeated both Derek Brunson and Yushin Okami by KO. By contrast, Carmont has only landed one knockdown and has yet to win by TKO in the UFC.
What’s scary is that striking is easily the worst part of Jacare’s game. He is a genuinely world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, on par with MMA fighters like Demian Maia. Engaging in a grappling contest with Jacare is a fool’s errand, and Carmont knows it. Carmont has to keep this fight standing if he wants to win.
The thing is: Jacare has an excellent takedown game as well. He lands 3.83 takedowns per 15 minutes at 48 percent accuracy. Carmont’s takedown defense has been very tough for anybody to break through, but he may find it hard to stay on his feet against Jacare.
In short, Carmont’s best chance of winning is to force Jacare into a striking match… in which I would still favor Jacare. If Costa Philippou represented a great style matchup for Carmont, Jacare represents just the opposite.
Pick: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza by submission
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
My numbers say Jacare wins 69% of the time, but throw that out the window. This is a great example of a fight where a particularly bad style matchup trumps the overall FPR ratings. Jacare is a -550 favorite to win the fight with Carmont a +425 underdog. Once again, I think the sportsbooks have it about right, so I’m going to pass entirely. If for some reason Jacare falls below -400, then I think there’s a bet to be made.