Few men can match Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza’s grappling pedigree. | Dave Mandel
Ronaldo Souza (17-3, 0-0 UFC) vs. Chris Camozzi (19-5, 6-2 UFC)
The Matchup: Souza was originally set to face rising top 10 talent Costas Philippou before a cut forced the Serra-Longo Fight Team member to withdraw from the co-main event. Fortunately, the UFC on FX 8 card also included Camozzi, another middleweight with some decent momentum who was willing to take Philippou’s place.
It is a serious upgrade in competition from Rafael Natal to Souza, and Camozzi will have to give the best performance of his career if he is to extend his current four-fight winning streak. Lately, the Colorado native has made a habit of just doing enough to get by. In his most recent outing, Camozzi was out-struck by Nick Ring but managed to capture a split decision victory at UFC 158. He appeared to tire as the bout progressed, and such lapses will cost him dearly against Souza.
While this is technically the official UFC debut for “Jacare,” the Brazilian dismantled Octagon veteran Ed Herman inside of a round at Strikeforce “Marquardt vs. Saffiedine,” blasting “Short Fuse” with heavy punches and a nice front kick before finishing his foe off with a kimura. Souza has now won three straight fights since dropping the Strikeforce middleweight title to Luke Rockhold in September 2011.
Camozzi has never really been inclined to shoot for takedowns, and now would not be the time to start. If “The Ultimate Fighter 11” alum is to have any chance of being competitive, he must use his jab and kicks to stay on the outside. Perpetual movement and a high volume of strikes are the best way to keep Souza, a five-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and the 2005 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, from closing the distance.
However, nothing about Camozzi’s previous efforts suggests he can do this consistently. Luiz Cane nearly had Camozzi trapped in a rear-naked choke at UFC 153, and although the FactoryX Muay Thai product remained calm and escaped the predicament, do not expect a mulligan from Souza if he achieves such a position. Additionally, Camozzi tends to fade as fights progress, and Souza is an improving striker with good power, speed and countering ability.
The most lopsided aspect of this fight should be on the mat. Souza’s judo background will allow him to control tie-up situations, and he dominates battles for positioning once the fight hits the floor. His takedown game will also serve to make Camozzi hesitant when it comes to pulling the trigger on strikes.
The Pick: Give Camozzi credit for stepping up to a more dangerous challenge on short notice, but he is outgunned here. Souza wins by submission in round one.
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