LAS VEGAS – After Ronaldo Souza‘s impressive UFC debut this past week in Brazil, questions quickly turned to who might be next for the Brazilian middleweight.
And now we apparently have the answer.
Souza (18-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) will be booked for a fight against onetime middleweight title challenger Yushin Okami (29-7 MMA, 13-4 UFC). UFC President Dana White revealed the planned booking on Thursday to reporters during a media event for UFC 160 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
White, however, said the fight has not been officially signed, and the UFC isn’t yet ready to announce a date for it.
Souza came into the UFC after the Strikeforce merger on a three-fight win streak following a middleweight title fight loss to Luke Rockhold in September 2011 in which he lost his belt.
But after that, he went on a tear with a submission win over Bristol Marunde, a first-round knockout of Derek Brunson and a first-round submission of Ed Herman in Strikeforce’s promotional finale.
And his impressive run continued this past Saturday in Brazil at UFC on FX 8, where he submitted Chris Camozzi in the first round to win “Submission of the Night” honors and $50,000 in his UFC debut.
“Jacare” now has won eight of his past nine fights, with just the Rockhold unanimous decision setback working against him. He won the Strikeforce middleweight title in August 2010 against Tim Kennedy, then defended it with a submission of Robbie Lawler.
Okami is on a three-fight win streak after back-to-back losses that started with his middleweight title setback against Anderson Silva at UFC 134. On the heels of that fight, he beat up Tim Boetsch for two rounds, but then was caught by him quickly in the third at UFC 144 and lost by TKO.
He rebounded, though, with a TKO of Buddy Roberts at UFC 150 in August 2012, then won a rematch with Alan Belcher and took a split decision from Hector Lombard this past March in Japan.
A win over Souza would give him four straight – and certainly would have him back in the conversation for another crack at the middleweight title. Okami, though, hasn’t had a streak of longer than three fights since a six-fight run in 2006-07 that was snapped by Rick Franklin at UFC 72. Since then, he’s had three three-fight streaks.
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza)