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‘Jacare’ Souza won’t wait for title shot, open to fight with Vitor Belfort

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Guilherme Cruz

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Luke Rockhold will be the next to challenge UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, and Ronaldo Souza isn’t happy about it. The Brazilian middleweight, former Strikeforce middleweight champion and undefeated in five UFC fights, believes he did enough to earn a shot at the gold.

"Sometimes I wonder why people don’t give us credit,"  "Jacare" said during the UFC 190 media day in Rio de Janeiro. "My fight with Rockhold (in Strikeforce) was a five-round war and people started to mock me, they didn’t know how tough Rockhold was. It’s good that they start believing in our work, in the Brazilians. Sometimes a loss happens, even if by the judges’ hands, but we come back stronger. I surprised against Mousasi, and will do the same to Rockhold, no doubt."

Souza, who avenged an old loss to Gegard Mousasi with a fourth-round guillotine choke last September, believes he should be the next in line, saying that Rockhold wins aren’t that impressive.

"I don’t think it’s fair," he said. "I thought that Rockhold should get past by me to fight for the title, or wait before I get my shot at the title. That’s the reality, there’s no other way, but unfortunately happened this way and we have to do one more fight.

"I don’t think (Rockhold) fought tougher fighters, I don’t know why people say that," he continued. "He fought Tim Boetsch, who has more holes in his game than a Swiss cheese. He fought Costa Phillipou, who can’t stop a takedown – but his merits for beating him standing. I fought Okami, who is tougher than them. I fought Mousasi, who is as tough as Lyoto – and he did a great job. And he fought Belfort, and I don’t even need to comment on that."

With Weidman vs. Rockhold official, "Jacare" won’t sit and wait for his opportunity.

"I’m anxious and always ready to fight," he said. "Give me a tough opponent and I will beat him up. I won’t wait for anyone. I was not born to wait, I was born to become champion."

Vitor Belfort, who recently lost to Weidman for the title in May, could be an option.

"I could fight him, yes," Souza said. "If he accepts, I can fight him."

Souza believes he’s a better grappler and striker than Weidman, and is not ready to call the champion a "Brazilian Killer" following wins over Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, and Lyoto Machida.

"I’ve seen him fight at the ADCC and I know about his qualities, but he’s not a ‘Brazilian Killer’," Souza said. "I’ve seen two Brazilians beat him, one (Vinny Magalhaes) with a flying armbar, and Andre Galvao. When I fight him, I’ll show that I’m the champion."