RIO DE JANEIRO -- Four of the best middleweight contenders will compete at UFC Fight Night 36, and Ronaldo Souza sees the main bouts as a middleweight tournament to determine the next in line for a shot at the 185-pound championship.
Jacare takes on Francis Carmont in the co-main event, while Lyoto Machida faces off against Gegard Mousasi in the main event on Feb. 15 in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil, and the winner of both fights could face off next to see who’s fighting for the belt after Vitor Belfort gets his shot.
"Lyoto was the light heavyweight champion and is coming off a big win, Mousasi was the DREAM champion, and I’m fighting a guy that has won six straight in the UFC," Souza said during a media day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "It will be like a grand prix to determine the next title challenger in the middleweight division."
Carmont defeated Constantinos Philippou in his last appearance inside the Octagon, but "Jacare" is confident in his weapons to stop any opponent in the middleweight division.
"I have the perfect style to beat anyone, including Chris Weidman," he said. "Many people don’t believe in my potential yet, but that’s how I like it. I still have much to prove, I’ve fought only twice in the UFC, but I can guarantee you that I’m ready for any challenge to prove I have what it takes to get the title.
"(Carmont) is a well-rounded fighter. He started his career in the striking area but has been taking down his opponents recently, doing a great job with his wrestling and jiu-jitsu. It’s a complicated fighter to set up a strategy, but that’s the type of challenge I like to fight."
Considering UFN 36 card a middleweight tournament, "Jacare" doesn’t know what to expect from the other "semifinal."
"It’s a complicated fight to break down because Mousasi always creates something to win, and Lyoto is exceptional in the counter attack," he said. "I don’t know if Mousasi will wait or if he’ll go after him, so I don’t know what to expect."
"I’ll be waiting for the winner."
"Jacare" is 2-0 in the UFC with devastating first-round victories over Chris Camozzi and Yushin Okami, and the former Strikeforce middleweight champion revealed he was offered a contract to fight in the UFC years ago, but decided to compete in other organizations.
"I had the chance to get in the UFC before, but I chose not to," he said. "(The reason) is personal. I liked that I had the chance to build a career at DREAM and Strikeforce, had a good experience before I was ready to get in the UFC to fight the best."