UFC Fort Lauderdale: Jacare vs. Hermansson Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Sunrise, Fla.
Updated: April 23, 2019 • 9:40 AM ET
Jacare Souza is still seeking an ever-elusive title shot.
A middleweight bout with title implications will headline UFC Fight Night this Saturday, as hungry veteran Jacare Souza will take on rising fighter Jack Hermansson in Sunrise, Fla.
Souza, the UFC’s No. 4 ranked middleweight, has clamored for a title shot since signing with the promotion in 2013. He entered the UFC with much hype as a well-known submission specialist after a stint in Strikeforce, where he went 7-1 and became a middleweight champion. Souza started 5-0 in the UFC and seemed to be on his way to a title shot before suffering a split-decision loss to Yoel Romero at UFC 194 in 2015.
Souza (26-6) was originally scheduled to fight Romero in a rematch this Saturday, but an illness forced Romero to withdraw from the bout, leaving Hermansson to step in on short notice.
Since losing to Romero, Souza has gone 4-2 with the losses coming to middleweight champion Robert Whittaker by TKO and interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum by split-decision. In his last fight in November, Souza defeated former champion Chris Weidman by knockout, which possibly put him one win away from the title shot he has been looking for once again.
Other than his victory over Weidman, the 39-year-old Souza has key victories over Derek Brunson (twice), Tim Boetsch, Vitor Belfort, Gegard Mousasi, Robbie Lawler, Tim Kennedy and Jason Miller. The Brazilian is one of the best submission specialists in MMA, but he has also shown great striking in his fights with Weidman, Brunson and Belfort.
With a win over Hermansson, it would be difficult to deny Souza a shot at the winner between Whittaker and interim champion Israel Adesanya, which could take place later this year.
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Hermansson, the No. 10 ranked middleweight, will ride a three-fight winning streak into Saturday. The 30-year-old Swedish fighter most recently collected the biggest victory of his career, a first-round submission of David Branch on March 30.
Hermansson (19-4, 6-2 in UFC) isn’t worried about Souza’s skills on the ground.
“I am not afraid to go (to the ground),” Hermansson said on a recent episode of The MMA Hour. “I will take him down, and I’ll do what I do. He has a really good ground game, but I have really good medicine for that and that’s the best ground-and-pound in the world.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re tasting a little bit of these fists, you’re suddenly not that good on the ground anymore.”
Hermansson would make the splash in the middleweight division he has been looking to make with a victory over Souza. A win would put him in the title conversation, while a loss would likely drop him out of the top 10 in the division.
The rest of the main card on ESPN+
Heavyweight bout - Greg Hardy vs. Dmitrii Smoliakov
Welterweight bout - Alex Oliveira vs. Mike Perry
Light heavyweight bout - No. 11 Glover Teixeira vs. Ion Cuțelaba
Bantamweight bout - No. 8 John Lineker vs. Cory Sandhagen
Lightweight bout - Roosevelt Roberts vs. Thomas Gifford
Welterweight bout - Ben Saunders vs. Takashi Sato
Heavyweight bout - No. 15 Andrei Arlovski vs. Augusto Sakai
Women's strawweight bout - No. 9 Carla Esparza vs. Livinha Souza
ESPN2 Early Prelims
Lightweight bout - Jim Miller vs. Jason Gonzalez
Women's strawweight bout - Jessica Penne vs. Jodie Esquibel
Welterweight bout - Court McGee vs. Dhiego Lima