BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – If Ronaldo Souza didn’t put the UFC’s middleweight division on notice earlier this year, he may have done it Wednesday night.
“Jacare” drilled Yushin Okami with a right hand in the first round – after battering him early in the fight – and pounded him out for a decisive TKO win.
The bout was the co-main event of today’s UFC Fight Night 28 event at Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. It aired on FOX Sports 1 following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and Facebook.
Souza, a former Strikeforce middleweight champion, debuted in the UFC in May with a first-round submission of Chris Camozzi, coming off of three stoppage wins in Strikeforce after losing his title to Luke Rockhold. But the win over Okami is his biggest to date and likely put him into title talk at 185 pounds.
Souza poured it on early against Okami. He landed a few shots that pushed Okami to the cage, where the former UFC title challenger covered up as Souza landed repeatedly.
Referee Leon Roberts took a close look, but with Okami covering up and appearing to block some of the shots with his hand, he was allowed to continue and work his way out of trouble. Not long after surviving the onslaught, Okami managed to stave off a “Jacare” takedown attempt.
Once things had settled back down, Okami looked to recover and find some kind of range against the Brazilian home favorite. But Souza never gave him that chance. “Jacare” measured his right hand, then finally landed it midway through the round. Okami may have been out when he hit the mat, but he came back to just in time for Souza to pound him out with several big right hands.
The worst part of Souza’s performance may have been kicking Okami hard enough that he said he injured his foot – keeping him doing his famed victory celebration.
“When I kicked him, I saw I hurt him a little bit, so I kicked him some more,” Souza said. “And yes, I hurt it – so I couldn’t do my ‘Jacare’ crawl for the crowd. I’ve got a very tough right hand. Whoever the UFC wants me to fight, I’ll fight.”
Souza (19-3 MMA, 2-0 UFC) won for the fifth straight time and moved to 2-0 in the UFC. Okami (29-8 MMA, 13-5 UFC) had a three-fight winning streak snapped.
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 28 results include:
- Ronaldo Souza def. Yushin Okami via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:47
- Joseph Benavidez def. Jussier Formiga via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:07
- Piotr Hallmann def. Francisco Trinaldo via submission (kimura) – Round 2, 3:50
- Rafael Natal def. Tor Troeng via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Ali Bagautinov def. Marcos Vinicius via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 3:28
- Edimilson Souza def. Felipe Arantes via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Lucas Martins def. Ramiro Hernandez via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 1:10
- Elias Silverio def. Joao Zeferino via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ivan Jorge def. Keith Wisniewski via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
- Sean Spencer def. Yuri Villefort via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 28, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
John Morgan contributed to this report on-site in Belo Horizonte.