Following “Jacare” Souza’s thrilling, knockout win over Chris Weidman earlier this month, the longtime middleweight contender says he’s going to wait on the sidelines until he receives a title shot. But, considering the current landscape of the middleweight championship picture, is the UFC going to play ball?
After dropping a tightly contested, split decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum this past May, “Jacare” got back on track at UFC 230, by taking out the aforementioned Weidman. The win left Souza sitting in the #3 spot at 185, and it moved his overall UFC record to 9-3.
“I’m a plan A, man,” Souza said, while discussing his intention to wait for a title shot. “I will fight for the belt. I want to wait for my chance. I’m a plan A, I will wait for my turn.”
“I’ve made a lot of money this year,” Souza added “I fought three times, I won three bonuses. I have one performance bonus and two fights of the night, I knocked my last opponent out. I’ve made plenty of money, I can stay some time without fighting.”
“Romero defeats me in a robbery and fights for the belt. Gastelum wins a split decision, a close fight — and I thought I should have won — and he fights for the belt,” Souza said. “If Chris Weidman had beat me, he would have fought for the belt, and I’m the No. 5 in the rankings. I knocked him out. Why am I not going to fight for the belt? Why? For what reason?
Now, there’s no denying that Souza’s losses to Gastelum and Romero were razor thin, and that the ridiculously, talented fighter has earned a title shot. But, as we know in the business of MMA, that doesn’t always mean you get one…
Recently it’s been reported that Israel Adesanya is expected to face Anderson Silva on February 10th, and that should certainly sound alarm bells in Souza’s camp. After all, if “The Last Stylebender” defeats the legendary Silva, it would be very surprising if he didn’t fight for the belt next, especially if the champ Robert Whittaker gets by Kelvin Gastelum that same night.
A bout between Whittaker, who resides in Australia, and the New Zealand residing Adesanya, seems like a foregone conclusion if that’s the way things roll. Really, if Adesanya takes out Silva in memorable fashion, he could jump by Souza for a title shot if Gastelum is holding the belt as well. So, if any of that happens, the UFC might come calling on Souza to fight in the interim, since we could be looking at the end of 2019 before “Jacare” could be booked for a title fight.
And what if Anderson Silva defeats Adesanya? Don’t be surprised – at all – if the UFC taps the “Spider” for a title shot, whether Gastelum or Whittaker is holding the belt. Silva fighting for the 185 title one more time, at the age of 44, would almost certainly draw bigger numbers than Souza competing for the belt.