April 15th, 2017, Brazilian grappling kingpin Ronaldo ‘Jacaré’ Souza is a sure thing for a shot at UFC Middleweight gold, before a high kick from current champion Robert Whittaker ends Souza’s night and sees the Aussie native leapfrog his fellow contender into title contention alongside Cuban wrestling talent Yoel Romero. Returning in a rematch against recent Lyoto Machida slayer Derek Brunson, incredibly, Jacaré earns his own high kick and punches stoppage to firmly reinstate himself as a title chaser at 185lbs. Despite partially blocking the right shin of the three-time ADCC champion, Brunson stumbled to the fence and a composed Jacaré marched coolly forward, unleashing stiff left hands on the clearly dazed striker, forcing Dan Miragliotta to call an end to the action. So what’s next for the man known as ‘Alligator’?
Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold loser: With former Olympian Yoel Romero and supreme grappler Luke Rockhold squaring off for the Interim Middleweight title at Perth’s UFC 221, the perfect match up for Ronaldo Souza would see him pitted against the loser of this contest. Losing a close decision to Romero where a spinning back-fist knockdown caught the judges eye, some questions are still unanswered so a run back of this monstrous UFC 194 meeting would be most likely accepted within the MMA community. A second meeting with fellow grappler and dangerous kickboxer Luke Rockhold would be my preferred pairing.
Chris Weidman pairing: This meeting makes perfect sense given the current state of affairs at 185lbs today. Both men are coming off wins and are arguably one big victory from a title tilt, match em’ up I say. Weidman most recently took out the dangerous Kelvin Gastelum, recovering from an opening round onslaught to secure an arm triangle submission. Both men are adapt grapplers, Jacaré with his élite level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and ‘The All American’ Weidman with his 2 NCAA Divison 1 All-American titles. Interesting one.
Kelvin Gastelum meeting: Arguably the most dangerous match up would see Souza pitted against the younger, quicker and far superior boxer Kelvin Gastelum. A move to Middleweight has seen a rebirth of the TUF victor, most recently starching former division king Michael Bisping with a clean angle cutting counter combination in Shanghai. With his sharp and technique precise hands, I’d hugely fancy Gastelum to take this one.