A crucial bout which should shape the middleweight landscape has been added to the UFC 176 card on August 2, as Jacare Souza will square off with fellow former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi. With Souza ranked #4 and Mousasi #7, the winner may be next in line for a title shot, though the nature of the win is important with the likes of Luke Rockhold and Vitor Belfort still in the mix.
Jacare Souza has won his last six fights since losing his Strikeforce middleweight title to Luke Rockhold back in September 2011, beating the likes of Yushin Okami and Francis Carmont in an impressive winning streak. Not only has Jacare shown the world class submission skills that makes him one of the most dangerous fighters on the ground, but he has also exhibited an improved stand-up game and showing his capability of finishing the fight wherever it takes place.
Now 3-0 in the UFC with two first round finishes during that spell, Jacare is expected to fight for the title with a win over Mousasi, with many surprised that his win over Carmont didn’t earn him that shot.
Gegard Mousasi had a lacklustre start to his UFC career with a win over Ilir Latifi before losing to Lyoto Machida, but put all of that behind him with an emphatic performance against Mark Munoz in May. The Armenian dominated Munoz en route to a first round submission, in one of the most impressive performances of the year, especially considering the fact that Munoz came into the bout as a favourite.
With an incredible 35-4-2 record as a professional and a titleholder for both Dream and Strikeforce, Mousasi will look to continue his success inside the Octagon. Just 28 years old, ‘The Dreamcatcher’ could finally earn a shot at UFC gold after years of impressing outside of the organisation.
The Jacare Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi bout will be the second time the pair have met, after Mousasi knocked Jacare out in the first round at Dream 6 in September 2008. UFC 176 is headlined by another rematch, with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo putting his belt on the line against Chad Mendes at Staples Centre in Los Angeles, CA on August 2.