When Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight king Robert Whittaker is healthy, Yoel Romero will almost assuredly be his next challenger. Now, we have a good idea of who will be second in line.
On Thursday, the UFC confirmed that former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will take on Kelvin Gastelum in a high-stakes 185-pound affair. The bout will feature on the main card of UFC 224, scheduled for May 12 at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
It will be the second appearance of 2018 for the 38-year-old Souza. At UFC on Fox 27 in January, the Brazilian grappling legend knocked out Derek Brunson in the first round with a head kick and follow-up punches. The win put “Jacare” back on track after he suffered a knockout loss to the now-champion Whittaker in April of last year.
Gastelum, 26, succumbed to former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman last July in a rollicking brawl at UFC on Fox 25. However, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner bounced back in style last November, clobbering another former 185-pound king, Michael Bisping, in just 2:30 of the first round in Shanghai.
The “Jacare”-Gastelum contest joins another major middleweight affair already announced for UFC 224, as this week, the UFC also announced a clash of former light heavyweight champions Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida, which Belfort has stated will be his retirement bout.