What's next for Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza? Apparently a few weeks of vacation, then it's headfirst into training camp for a possible UFC title fight.
MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani reported on Wednesday's edition of UFC Tonight that Souza (21-3, 1 NC), fresh off his dominant third-round submission victory over former Strikeforce titleholder Gegard Mousasi, intends to go through a full two-month training camp on the off-chance that either UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman or controversial title challenger Vitor Belfort drop out before the pair can tangle in Las Vegas this December at UFC 181.
"Our plan A is to be the UFC's plan B," Faria told Helwani.
Souza, the No. 2 ranked 185-pounder on the UFC's media-generated rankings, has looked near-unstoppable since handing over his Strikeforce middleweight title to Luke Rockhold in late-2011. The 34-year-old jiu-jitsu savant holds a 7-0 record in that time, including four successive and increasingly impressive UFC victories over Chris Camozzi, Yushin Okami, Francis Carmont, and Mousasi.
While Souza leapfrogged over Belfort in the UFC rankings following his recent gem over Mousasi, promotion president Dana White explained that, due in large part to scheduling issues, "Jacare" would likely need to fight again before getting his chance at the belt.
"You can say [Souza] is next in line for a title," White said on FOX Sports 1. "(But) somebody's already next in line for the title. ... So it depends on when this thing happens, what goes down, what happens with Chris Weidman. It's tough to say, yeah he's getting a title shot when there's already a title shot in line."
Weidman is currently scheduled to meet Belfort on December 6, although a certain amount of uncertainty surrounds the booking due to Belfort's recent past. The Brazilian earned his title shot on the strength of three remarkable knockout wins over Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson, however all three of those performances came before the Nevada Athletic Commission's ban on testosterone replacement therapy, of which Belfort was an admitted user.
It was subsequently revealed that Belfort failed a random NAC drug test for elevated levels of testosterone in February.
While commission officials nonetheless awarded Belfort a license to fight Weidman in December, they made it clear that Belfort will be expected to undergo extensive random drug screening in the lead-up to the bout. And now it appears that if Belfort (or Weidman) slips up, Souza will be more than ready to fill the spot.