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Dana White says Ronaldo Souza will likely have to fight again before title shot

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Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. – Ronaldo Souza avenged a 2008 loss against Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 50 on Friday night to make it seven wins in a row, four of which have come in in the UFC. But don't book him into a middleweight title fight just yet.

That's because there's already a 185-pound title fight on the horizon between Vitor Belfort and Chris Weidman, which is set for UFC 181 on Dec. 6. Even though Jacare has earned his way into title talks, his timing is off for that to happen immediately. And according to UFC president Dana White, because Belfort-Weidman is still three months off, Souza will likely need to fight again before he gets his crack at the belt.

"You can say [Souza] is next in line for a title," he told on a Fox Sports 1 post-fight interview. "Somebody's already next in line for the title, so obviously Jacare looked incredible tonight, he put on a great performance and I'm sure he'll fight again before we talk about title shots."

Souza (21-3-1) is the former Strikeforce middleweight champion. He lost his title to Luke Rockhold in Sept. 2011, and has gone a seven-fight win streak since then. On Friday night, Jacare was able to even things up with Mousasi, who defeated him at DREAM 6 in Japan with a well-time upkick. Souza tapped Mousasi out in the third round via guillotine, but was dominating the fight from the opening bell. The end came at the 4:30 mark of round three.

It was the kind of declarative performance in a main event spot that makes its own case.

"He looked very impressive tonight," White said. "You know, I'm a huge Mousasi fan, and he picked him apart and wore him out. He looked fantastic tonight. And we talk about title shots, there's a title fight that's going to happen first. 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."

Souza's only other loss in the last decade was to Rockhold in Strikeforce, who happens to be right there in contention for a title shot of his own. But again, Souza's timing couldn't be worse. On Thursday the UFC announced that Michael Bisping (currently ranked No. 8 on the UFC rankings) would be facing Rockhold next on Nov. 8 in Australia. The Bisping-Rockhold feud has been burbling for several months.

The only other fighter in the top five who is available is Lyoto Machida, who is coming off a title shot of his own at UFC 175 in July (a loss). Another possibility is the winner of Yoel Romero-Tim Kennedy, who fight at UFC 178 on Sept. 28. Whatever the case, White stressed that Jacare's close, but timing is the thing.

"You said it yourself, timing is everything," he told Ariel Helwani. "There is a title fight. There's a title fight lined up, it's still a ways away, so...yeah."