Just one event removed from the middleweight title fight between Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida at UFC 175, the UFC might be lining up who will fight for the title next when ‘Jacare’ Souza faces Gegard Mousasi in what could be a middleweight title elimination bout. Recently announced for UFC 176, Jacare and Mousasi will serve as the co-main event at the Staples Center. The main event will feature another popular Brazilian fighter when Jose Aldo attempts to defend his championship against Chad Mendes.
Interestingly, both the main event and co main event are rematches. Chad Mendes fell short on his first attempt at winning the championship when a crushing knee from Aldo ended his night in the first round. As for the co main event between Jacare and Mousasi, the story is a little less cut and dry.
The two promising middleweights first met in 2008 at Dream 6 in Japan. The Dream 6 event was a tournament that was to determine the first Dream middleweight champion. Both Jacare and Mousasi had dispatched their previous opponents in the first round and found themselves in a fight for the championship. Jacare looked for the takedown early in their first match and, after planting Mousasi on the mat, looked to pass the guard of the long and lanky middleweight. Just as Jacare looked to dive on Mousasi with a punch, Mousasi planted a hard upkick on the chin of an oncoming Jacare, knocking him out cold.
Since their fight 6 years ago, Mousasi has won 9 of his past 12 fights and Jacare has been victorious in 10 of his last 12. Mousasi sits at 2-1 in the UFC, only losing to #1 middleweight contender and former light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida, by decision, and Jacare is undefeated at 3-0. Mousasi captured the Strikeforce light heavyweight title while Jacare did the very same at middleweight. Needless to say, 6 years is a long time in the career of a fighter and both men have changed for the better.
Now, sitting at 3-0 in the UFC, Jacare is poised to be the next big challenge for the title, and by defeating Mousasi, he can jump in front of the pack and stake his claim as #1 contender. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’ll be able to attempt to avenge a knockout loss in the process. Mousasi has been fed a murderers row of opponents since entering the UFC and, even if he loses to Jacare, he will most likely be able to enjoy a slight step down in competition. But a win for Mousasi will shake up the division quite a bit and he too will hop over many fighters to be on the fast track to a title shot.
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