UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs. Brunson 2 Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Charlotte.
Updated: Jan. 25, 2018 • 8:30 AM ET
The UFC is set for its event in Charlotte this weekend.
UFC Fight Night will invade Charlotte on Saturday, featuring a re-match between two of the top middleweights in the world.
In a fight that will have heavy implications on the middleweight division rankings, No. 3 Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will face No. 8 Derek Brunson this weekend. The two fighters originally met in Strikeforce in 2012 with Souza quickly winning by knockout, 41 seconds into the first round.
Souza is 2-2 in his last four fights, his latest being a knockout loss to middleweight champion Robert Whittaker last April. He put together an eight-fight winning streak before losing by split decision to Yoel Romero at UFC 194. However, the 38-year-old Souza has also picked up big wins in his career over Brunson, Gegard Mousasi, Jason Miller, Robbie Lawler and Tim Kennedy.
Souza is a former Strikeforce champion and if he wants his title aspirations to continue, he must collect a win over Brunson. The three fighters above him in the rankings have all defeated him, so there’s no more room for set-backs. If Souza wants another crack at Whittaker, Romero or Luke Rockhold, he must not look past Brunson.
Brunson was cruising toward a possible title shot until he met Whittaker in November 2016. It was a high-paced brawl that Whittaker won by first-round knockout. Prior to that fight, Brunson was on a five-fight winning streak. After the fight with Whittaker, he lost a controversial decision to Anderson Silva, but rebounded nicely with two first-round knockouts over Daniel Kelly and Lyoto Machida, respectively.
Brunson, a Wilmington native, will have the added pressure, or perhaps advantage, of fighting in his home state of North Carolina. His last two fights have been out of the country, so the 33-year-old can find comfort with fighting in a familiar place. A win and redemption over Souza would represent the biggest victory of his career and put Brunson back on track for a title shot.
The rest of the main card
Featherweight fight - No. 11 Dennis Bermudez vs. Andre Fili
Bermudez is on a two-fight skid, with his most recent loss being by split decision to Darren Elkins. The 31-year-old Bermudez is a seven-year UFC veteran and has picked up wins over big names such as Clay Guida and featherweight champion Max Holloway.
Fili is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Conor McGregor training partner Artem Lobov in October. However, he has never won two straight fights during his time in the UFC. A win over a ranked opponent and veteran would be exactly what the 27-year-old Fili needs to be considered a threat in the featherweight division.
Lightweight fight - Jordan Rinaldi vs. Gregor Gillespie
Rinaldi is 1-1 in the UFC and coming off a first-round submission victory over Alvaro Herrera in August. Gillespie is 3-0 in the UFC and 10-0 overall, most recently winning Fight of the Night honors with his second round submission of Jason Gonzalez in September. Gillespie also took home Performance of the Night honors with his first round knockout of Andrew Holbrook last April.
Lightweight fight - Drew Dober vs. Frank Camacho
Dober is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Josh Burkman at UFC 214 in July, and he’s 3-1 in his last four fights. Camacho is 1-1 in the UFC with both of his fights being great battles that won Fight of the Night bonuses. He most recently won a split decision over Damien Brown in November, during which he landed 154 total strikes.
Lightweight fight - Erik Koch vs. Bobby Green
Featherweight fight - No. 15 Mirsad Bektic vs. Godofredo Pepey
Women’s flyweight fight - No. 11 Kaitlyn Chookagian vs. Mara Romero Borella
Women’s strawweight fight - No. 11 Randa Markos vs. Juliana Lima
Women’s flyweight fight - Justine Kish vs. Ji Yeon Kim
Lightweight fight - Vinc Pichel vs. Joaquim Silva
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Welterweight fight - Niko Price vs. George Sullivan
Featherweight fight - Austin Arnett vs. Cory Sandhagen