Ronaldo Souza wants to make a statement against Yoel Romero. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
After healing from the pneumonia that postponed his fight against Yoel Romero for almost two months, Ronaldo Souza is in great shape to face the Cuban wrestler at UFC on Fox 15.
“I´m really motivated for that fight. Yoel Romero is a great fighter, and I trained hard to get the finish and prove that nobody deserves the title shot more than me,” Souza told Sherdog.com following a a wrestling session with Brazilian national team representative and X-Gym wrestling coach Adrian Jaoude.
While Jaoude lauded “Jacare’s” wrestling, the coach offered even more praise when it came to the former Strikeforce champion’s gas tank.
“The wrestling skills of Ronaldo have improved a lot lately, but his cardio is what impressed me the most. I had him go three five-minute rounds with different guys and nobody could take him down,” Jaoude said. “So I got into the cage for 10 minutes with him, and he kept the same pace and finished the session in great condition.”
Added Mario Sperry, who is training at X-Gym in preparation for his upcoming superfight with Ricardo Liborio at ADCC Sao Paulo in August: “I got tired just watching what he did today in five rounds in Jaoude´s training. His endurance and strength brought to mind [Ricardo] Arona in the best times of Pride. I see Jacare challenging for the UFC title soon.”
Jaoude thinks highly of Romero, a former world champion and Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, but he is confident Souza has the skills to overcome his decorated opponent.
“If we compared [wrestling] with soccer, I would say that Romero is like Neymar,”Jaoude said. “Besides being a genius, he is also a showman, but in MMA I have to say that Jacare is ahead of him.”
Upon returning from taping of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4” in Las Vegas, strength and conditioning coach Rogerio Camoes came away equally impressed with the fighter’s conditioning.
“When I travaled to Vegas, he was healing from a strong pneumonia. It wasgood to come back and see him in such a great shape,” Camoes said. “To tell you the truth, I´ve never seen him in such perfect condition.”
Meanwhile, Souza’s head coach, Josuel Distak, is confident that his charge can stop Romero inside the distance. An impressive showing could be critical to the Brazilian’s title hopes, because the April 18 card is headlined by a middleweight clash between top contenders Luke Rockhold and Lyoto Machida. Any one of the four fighters -- Souza, Romero, Rockhold or Machida -- could potentially stake his claim to the No. 1 contender’s spot depending on how the evening goes.
“We respect Romero a lot. He is such a great athlete, but Jacare is prepared to show to the fans that nobody deserves this title shot more than him. Not only for being No. 1 ranked, but also for the impressive way he is beating his oponnents. He will win that fight via submission or KO,” Distak said.