Jan Blachowicz and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza each know what it feels prefer to be one win away from a UFC title shot solely to return up brief in a vital second. And each are hoping to keep away from one other career-altering disappointment once they meet in the primary occasion of UFC Combat Night time on Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Blachowicz (24-8) was on a four-fight win streak in February when he suffered a TKO loss to Thiago Santos. Santos went on to combat for the sunshine heavyweight championship in his subsequent bout.
The UFC’s gentle heavyweight division might have one other title contender emerge on Saturday.
Within the UFC Combat Night time predominant occasion, Jan Blachowicz, who has gained 5 of his previous six fights, will tackle Jacare Souza, the veteran star who’s making his debut within the division.
UFC Combat Night time: Blachowicz vs. Jacare
• Saturday, Sao Paulo, Brazil
• Prelims: ESPN+, 5 p.m. ET
• Principal card: ESPN+, Eight p.m. ET
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Souza (26-7) has skilled comparable heartbreak as a middleweight — twice. Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum each went on to combat for the title after defeating “Jacare.” The Brazilian, at age 39, is now looking for a contemporary begin within the 205-pound division.
The winner of Saturday’s predominant occasion, which takes place at Ginasio Do Ibirapuera and airs on ESPN+ (Eight p.m. ET predominant card, 5 p.m. ET prelims), won’t be assured a title shot, however he’ll a minimum of place himself within the dialog. The loser shall be trying to find solutions on the place to go subsequent.
If Blachowicz loses, he’ll be a UFC document of 7-6 and could have misplaced probably the most momentum he has ever had, coming off a knockout win towards Luke Rockhold. If Souza is the loser, he’ll be looking at (remarkably) the primary shedding streak of his profession — and probably retirement.
Often, the importance of a win in MMA may be as a lot about sustaining one’s place in line as it’s about enhancing it — and that is the place Blachowicz and Souza discover themselves in right here. Every actually has extra to lose than to realize on this combat, a minimum of within the brief time period. And so they have lots to lose.
By the numbers
10: Grappling world championships for Souza, who earned eight gold medals on the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (plus two silvers) and two gold medals on the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship (plus three silvers). In MMA, he has 14 submissions amongst his 26 victories.
52: Proportion of takedown makes an attempt efficiently landed by Blachowicz, highest amongst energetic gentle heavyweights, in accordance with UFC Stats.
8: Finishes within the UFC by Souza, probably the most within the promotion’s middleweight historical past.
496: Vital strikes landed within the UFC by Blachowicz, seventh-most amongst energetic gentle heavyweights, in accordance with UFC Stats. (Jon Jones is No. 1, with 1,359.) Blachowicz lands at a 50.3% clip, fifth-best amongst energetic 205-pounders.
7: Postfight bonuses within the UFC by Souza, who has been awarded bonuses for 5 of his previous seven bouts.
Supply: ESPN Stats & Info
A glance again
5 vs. 5
Jan Blachowicz’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Luke Rockhold (KO2, July 6, 2019)
Loss: Thiago Santos (TKO3, Feb. 23, 2019)
Win: Nikita Krylov (SUB2, Sept. 15, 2018)
Win: Jimi Manuwa (UD, March 17, 2018)
Win: Jared Cannonier (UD, Dec. 16, 2017)
“Jacare” Souza’s most up-to-date outcomes
Loss: Jack Hermansson (UD, April 27, 2019)
Win: Chris Weidman (KO3, Nov. 3, 2018)
Loss: Kelvin Gastelum (SD, Might 12, 2018)
Win: Derek Brunson (KO2, Jan. 27, 2018)
Loss: Robert Whittaker (TKO2, April 15, 2017)
Powerful occasions for Souza
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza feels nice heading into his gentle heavyweight bout vs. Jan Błachowicz in his hometown of Sao Paulo for UFC Combat Night time: Blachowicz vs. Jacare.
“I did not wish to do something anymore. I might go to the fitness center and begin crying as a result of I did not wish to be there. I did not really feel prefer it.”
That was Souza chatting with Gustavo Faldon of ESPN Brazil concerning the aftermath of his April loss to Jack Hermansson. It was an eye-opening acknowledgement, particularly for somebody within the just-tough-it-out combat sport. However Souza had simply seen his middleweight inventory go splat. Going into the Hermansson combat, Souza was on the verge of a title shot. Afterward, he was nowhere.
On the urging of his spouse, Souza noticed a psychologist, who, Souza mentioned, recognized him with burnout syndrome, a stress-related dysfunction that plagues an individual with overwhelming psychological and bodily exhaustion.
“I did not observe for 3 months,” mentioned Souza. “I slept 4 hours an evening. I did all the pieces that an athlete can not do. I drank soda at 2 a.m. I felt like sleeping, however I couldn’t. I didn’t get off the bed. I received to the purpose the place I went to the fitness center however couldn’t are available in. I might simply keep there within the car parking zone and return house.”
Now, after months of remedy and relaxation, Souza is again within the sport — at a brand new weight class. He’s utilizing this contemporary begin at gentle heavyweight to rein in his expectations. Do not even ask a couple of title shot.
“I am not even serious about it,” he mentioned. “I’m taking one step at a time. My aim is to coach arduous and win the combat.”
“I’m targeted on Jacare now. After that, I don’t see any choice apart from Jones. After I’m carried out with Jacare, I’ll defeat Jon Jones.”
–Blachowicz, chatting with ESPN Brazil
The final time Blachowicz welcomed a middleweight to gentle heavy:
Brett Okamoto’s prediction
Historical past is just not on Souza’s facet right here (a minimum of, from what we have seen in 2019). He would be the third high-profile middleweight to check the waters at a better weight class this 12 months, and to date the experiment hasn’t ended nicely. Former champions Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman have been each brutally knocked out of their UFC gentle heavyweight debuts. The circumstances across the three strikes up from 185 kilos have been all totally different, in fact, however I predict an analogous outcome right here. Blachowicz through TKO, third spherical.
Ready within the wings
Blachowicz appears to assume Jon Jones is ready for him, however the champ has given no such indication. The truth is, Jones has been courting a combat with Dominick Reyes, leaving Blachowicz and different high gentle heavyweight contenders (Corey Anderson, most notably) to kind issues out amongst themselves.
What else to search for … past the primary occasion
The remainder of the cardboard, co-main occasion down:
ESPN+, Eight p.m. ET
Gentle heavyweight: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Paul Craig
Light-weight: Charles Oliveira vs. Jared Gordon
Middleweight: Antonio Arroyo vs. Andre Muniz
Middleweight: Markus Perez vs. Wellington Turman
ESPN+, 5 p.m. ET
Welterweight: Sergio Moraes vs. James Krause
Males’s featherweight: Ricardo Ramos vs. Luiz Eduardo Garagorri
Light-weight: Francisco Trinaldo vs. Bobby Inexperienced
Welterweight: Warlley Alves vs. Randy Brown
Males’s bantamweight: Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Renan Barão
Girls’s flyweight: Ariane Lipski vs. Isabella de Padua
Girls’s bantamweight: Vanessa Melo vs. Tracy Cortez
The co-main occasion: What makes ‘Shogun’ a legend
The time period “legend” is tossed round loosely generally, nearly to the purpose that it loses its influence. However Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, who faces Paul Craig on Saturday, has the credentials to again it up.
1. He’s already within the UFC Corridor of Fame, or a minimum of considered one of his fights is. Among the many 2018 inductees was Rua’s traditional 2011 rock-’em-sock-’em combat with Dan Henderson — to not be confused along with his traditional 2014 rock-’em-sock-’em rematch with Henderson.
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2. He has gained eight UFC postfight bonuses: three for Knockout of the Night time (vs. Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida and James Te-Huna), 4 for Combat of the Night time (vs. Mark Coleman, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Henderson twice) and one for Efficiency of the Night time (vs. Tyson Pedro).
3. He is a former UFC gentle heavyweight champion, in addition to the winner of the 2005 Delight Middleweight Grand Prix; inside the span of 4 months, he defeated Quinton Jackson, Nogueira, Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona — and all however “Lil Nog” by knockout.
4. His 14 knockdowns as a UFC gentle heavyweight are by far probably the most amongst energetic 205-pounders (the following most are Alexander Gustafsson’s 9). “Shogun” is tied with Liddell for probably the most all time within the division.
5. Rua has 1,108 complete strikes within the UFC, the third-most all time at gentle heavyweight, placing him behind simply Jon Jones (1,728) and Tito Ortiz (1,241).
6. His 24 takedowns go away him No. Three amongst energetic gentle heavyweights, behind Corey Anderson (53) and Jones (40).
7. A win by KO or TKO on Saturday would tie “Shogun” with Liddell for probably the most within the UFC’s modern-era gentle heavyweight historical past.
If solely this combat card have been taking place in 2011 …
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza was Strikeforce middleweight champion.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was UFC gentle heavyweight champion.
Renan Barao was making his UFC debut whereas on a 15-fight profitable streak, unbeaten in his previous 26 bouts. Inside 4 fights, Barao can be interim bantamweight champ, quickly to be promoted to the actual belt.
Additionally in 2011: Apple launched the iPhone 4s. … “The Oprah Winfrey Present” aired for the ultimate time. … The 12 months’s top-grossing movie was “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Half 2,” the eighth and ultimate installment within the fantasy collection. … The band R.E.M. broke up after 31 years. … Planking was a fad.
Some undercard choices from Andrew Davis of ESPN Stats & Info:
Charles Oliveira, who faces Jared Gordon on the primary card, is the UFC’s chief in submission wins, with 13. Oliveira’s final combat, towards Nik Lentz in Might, ended not in a tapout however within the first KO/TKO win of his UFC profession.
In the event you like submissions, this might be the occasion for you. Moreover Oliveira, Warlley Alves has gained three UFC fights by guillotine; another will tie him for the document with Nate Diaz and Oliveira (except “Do Bronx” will get one, too). Francisco Trinaldo has gained two UFC fights by arm triangle; another will give him the document. And Paul Craig has gained two UFC fights by triangle choke; another will give him the document. Craig would additionally tie the sunshine heavyweight document for many submission wins with 5.
Eduardo Garagorri of Uruguay is the one undefeated fighter on the cardboard, at 13-0. Garagorri shall be seeking to go 2-Zero within the UFC when he faces Ricardo Ramos on the prelims. If Garagorri wins, he’ll tie Shamil Gamzatov for the third-best document amongst energetic UFC fighters, behind Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Israel Adesanya (18-0).
Ricardo Ramos is making his featherweight debut after placing up a 4-1 UFC document at bantamweight. Ramos not too long ago got here in at No. 10 on ESPN’s checklist of the highest 25 MMA fighters below the age of 25. Ramos won’t flip 25 till Aug. 1, 2020.
Francisco Trinaldo shall be making his 20th UFC look, with a UFC-record 15 of these coming in Brazil. The 41-year-old out of Brasilia is 11-Three in his UFC profession in his house nation, profitable his final two fights there.
This card is full of Brazilian fighters. There’s a Brazilian in every of the 12 fights, and general, there are 15 Brazilians on the cardboard. If a Brazilian wins in each combat, it might tie the document for many wins by Brazilian fighters on a UFC card. That document was set on the Might 2013 card in Jaraguá do Sul that was headlined by Vitor Belfort’s win over Luke Rockhold. The document was tied three weeks later on the June 2013 card in Fortaleza that includes Fabricio Werdum’s win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.