“Never insult an alligator until after you have crossed the river” – Cordell Hull
Lost in the midst of Luke Rockhold’s dominance of Lyoto Machida, Max Holloway’s performance against Cub Swanson, and Paige VanZant’s breakout party on Saturday was “Jacare” Souza’s easy win over Chris Camozzi. The general consensus is that Rockhold is now next in line for a middleweight title shot after Vitor Belfort and Chris Weidman battle it out in May. Rockhold and Weidman have already engaged in a battle of words and both seem to be overlooking what Jacare accomplished not only on Saturday night but in his UFC career so far.
Jacare’s win over Camozzi was his eighth straight and also pushed his UFC record to a perfect 5-0. The Brazilian was brought over from Strikeforce after it was absorbed into the UFC in 2013. While in Strikeforce he posted a 7-1 record with his only loss coming to Luke Rockhold.
Jacare was originally scheduled to fight Yoel Romero on Saturday but about a week and a half before the card Romero was forced off due to a knee injury. Rather than pull Jacare from the event all together the UFC scrambled for a replacement and all they could get on short notice was Chris Camozzi.
Leading up to Saturday’s UFC event it was a four-man race to be next in line for the middleweight championship’s number one contender spot. Jacare was riding seven fight win streak, Romero had won five in a row and also undefeated in the UFC. Machida was 3-1 in the middleweight division and Rockhold was on a three fight win streak. If anyone of these four men had a dominant and impressive performance that could have been enough to propel them to be next in line for a shot at the middleweight champion. As it turned out that man ended up being Luke Rockhold. But was Jacare’s performance on Saturday not as impressive?
Jacare is being punished because his original opponent got hurt and could not fight. On Saturday the man they call the “Gator” (English translation of Jacare) did what was expected of him and took care of Camozzi in easy fashion. He did his job and did it very effectively it is just that he did it against a far lesser opponent that Rockhold did.
If you were to look at the numbers alone, the Jacare and Romero fight should have been the true number one contender bout. Both fighters were undefeated in the UFC and during their time in the company each fighter has finished their opponents in all but one of their fights. That is compared to Machida and Rockhold who were both 3-1 in the middleweight division leading up to Saturday’s card.
On the other hand, it is not Rockhold’s fault that Jacare lost his opponent. He did what he had to do and made a statement by choking out Machida and staking claim to what he feels he earned and that is a title shot. What was originally a four-man race is has now become a two-man race between Jacare and Rockhold. And at the moment Rockhold has a pretty big lead on the jiu-jitsu specialist.
Juicer is 5-0 in the UFC as compared to Rockhold’s 4-1 record. Rockhold’s lone loss came via a Vitor Belfort head kick back in 2013. Since the loss the former Strikeforce middleweight champion has won four in a row and all by either knockout or submission.
Now Rockhold does own a win over Jacare but that came back in 2011 when he was primarily a jiu-jitsu fighter. Since the loss, two of Jacare’s seven wins have come by way of knockout. That is a pretty good ratio for a man who has 16 career submission victories.
It is this author’s opinion that Rockhold should be next in line. A win over Machida carries a lot more weight than a second win over Chris Camozzi. But by no means is Rockhold leaps and bounds ahead of Jacare in this discussion. The numbers are closer then one would think and Jacare is a healthy Yoel Romero away from having a cage side seat at UFC 187 when Chris Weidman defends the middleweight championship against Vitor Belfort.