"Jacare" is hungry.
Ronaldo Souza returns to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 36 against Tristar Gym product Francis Carmont on Feb. 15. Coming off a huge knockout win over Yushin Okami in May, "Jacare" wants to leave another good impression to help him get closer to the middleweight title.
Souza knows that Vitor Belfort is the next in line for the title against the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva, and he might need to fight one more time in the future, but he’s not in a hurry to fight anyone -- including the winner of UFN 36’s main event, Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi.
"That’s a possibility, it might happen," Souza told MMAFighting.com when asked if a potential No. 1 contender match-up with Machida or Mousasi.
"If I win this fight, there’s a chance that I fight for the title next. Anything can happen. I just want to get there and fight. If they give me the opportunity to fight for the title next I’ll accept it, of course, but I have no idea if it’s going to happen or if I’m going to wait. I just want to fight."
But first things first, and the former Strikeforce middleweight champion won’t underestimate Carmont.
"It will be a great fight," he said. "He’s a tough opponent, is coming off six consecutive wins in the UFC. I was already expecting to fight him next, and it’s going to be a brawl. It’s always special to fight in Brazil, in front of my fans. They cheer for you and that gives you an extra power to get the win."
Riding an 11-fight win streak with wins over the likes of Constantinos Philippou, Tom Lawlor and Chris Camozzi, Carmont has 16 stoppage victories with 10 submissions, but playing jiu-jitsu with a grappling wizard like "Jacare" could be a bad decision.
"When we’re fighting MMA, everything is different," Souza said. "Jiu-jitsu is not always the same, striking is not always the same. But I hope to get there with my best weapons to surprise my opponent and get a huge win. That’s my goal."
Following his recent win over Okami, "Jacare" said he would be open to the idea of moving up to the light heavyweight division for some special challenges, but he’s not focused on that idea anymore.
"I haven’t done anything in my division yet," he said. "I still have a lot to prove in the middleweight division, and I can’t focus on other division now. I have a big challenge in front of me and there are a lot of fighters I still have to fight at 185."