Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza is headed to free agency.
"We've been going back and forth (with UFC officials) for a while," Souza's manager Gilberto Faria told MMA Fighting. "We still have not reached an agreement on his value, but we will continue to talk after the fight. Our goal is to reach a new agreement shortly. The UFC middleweight belt is Jacare's goal. With a good contract in place, we will keep fighting the best middleweight talents out there and earn the title shot.
"'Jacare' is the only guy out there who's been vocal about fighting either Luke Rockhold or Yoel Romero. Nobody else is looking for this level of trouble, especially current UFC middleweight paper champion Michael Bisping. 'Jacare' has a tough challenge ahead of him (against Whittaker on Saturday) and this fight is what matters now."
Souza, 37, is considered one of the very best middleweights in the world. A former Strikeforce middleweight champion, the Brazilian is 7-1 inside the Octagon, with his lone loss come via controversial split decision against Romero. He's won his last two fights in a row against Vitor Belfort and, most recently, against Tim Boetsch.
Lately, Souza has been vocal about the state of the 185-pound division and the UFC, publicly criticizing the promotion's decision to book Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre next.
“I want them to suffer a double knockout,” Souza said last month. “I want them to fuck themselves, man. That’s the reality. I don’t care about this fight. That’s the same thing I said when Bisping fought Dan Henderson. I didn’t care, too. I won’t even watch this crap.”
This time next week, the UFC will be facing the reality that its current No. 3 (Souza) and No. 5 (Gegard Mousasi) ranked middleweights are free agents. Mousasi completed the last fight on his current deal this past weekend when he defeated Chris Weidman via second-round TKO at UFC 210.