“Jacare” Souza has called for title shots in the past, and following his thrilling win over Chris Weidman at UFC 230, the Brazilian’s insisting one should come next. But will the perennial contender finally fight for the UFC’s 185 crown?
Souza faced Weidman in the co-headliner of Saturday’s event, and at a couple of different points, it looked like the latter could be headed to victory. Souza, however, continued to battle through Weidman’s stiff jabs and right hands, and eventually sent the former champ to the deck in round three. It was one of the most memorable and important victories of Souza’s career to date.
Following the pivotal win, Souza had this to say, while discussing what he believes should come next (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“One hundred percent title shot,” Souza said. “I deserve that chance.”
Now, considering Souza just finished the promotion’s #3 ranked middleweight, and what the star has accomplished during his UFC run, you can understand why he believes he should fight for the title. But, if you pull out a bit and look at the championship picture, questions remain as to whether Souza will get his wish.
While Saturday’s victory no doubt buzzed the MMA world, Souza was finished by the current champ, Robert Whittaker last year. So, if the champ gets by Kelvin Gastelum on February 9th, will the masses be calling for a rematch? Would Whittaker even be interested in that bout? The answer could be no.
Now, if Gastelum defeats Whittaker, then Souza’s chances of locking up a title shot will increase significantly. While he lost to Gastelum this past March, it was by split decision, so, you would think more people would be invested in seeing that rematch.
The other component to all this is Israel Adesanya. The highlight reel striker took out Derek Brunson in jaw-dropping fashion and has gone 4-0 now in the UFC. Adesanya has also been making headlines with his talents on the mic. When Souza was also asked about where Adesanya fits in the title shot mix, he said this:
“That guy is impressive,” Souza said. “He’s very impressive. He has chances of fighting for the belt. But I’ve done that, too, and I’ve done it better than him. So he’ll need to fight other, tougher guys. I did it better than him, twice, already.”
Some observers will likely agree with Souza’s take here, as he’s faced the ‘who’s who’ of the 185 division while Adesanya hasn’t. But as we’ve repeatedly seen in the MMA world, business considerations often override meritocratic ones. So, depending on what transpires at UFC 234, and in between now and then, don’t be surprised if “The Last Stylebender” leaps past Souza in the title shot race. Yes, even if Dana White reported on Saturday they have an opponent in mind for Adesanya.