UFC on FOX 24 fight week seemed to be all about Ronaldo Souza. After day before the event, “Jacare” signed a new eight-fight UFC contract, one which seemed to ensure he’d be in the UFC middleweight title race for some time to come.
Robert Whittaker? Sure, he was going to make a nice fight for Souza, but he was pretty much an afterthought heading into Saturday’s bout in Kansas City.
Turns out the New Zealand native was simply saving his best for when it counted most. Whittaker put in a flawless performance in downing the former Strikeforce middleweight champion via TKO at 3:28 of the second round.
“I train tirelessly,” Whittaker (18-4) said after his seventh straight victory. “Train my jiu-jitsu, train my wrestling. My coaches told me if I stayed patient, it would come.”
A key point in the fight came midway through the opening round, when Souza got Whittaker to the mat and attempted to get his back in search of a submission. Whittaker flicked Souza off his back, got back to his feet, and earned a clear mental edge.
A sign of things to come then happened early in the second, when Whittaker dropped Souza with a punch. That one didn’t finish it, but Souza was clearly still dazed, and soon Whittaker followed a straight right with a flush high kick, which led to the finishing flurry.
“We discussed all the possibilities,” Whittaker said. “He’s so good on the ground, it was, if we go to the ground, hit him a few times and get back up, stay patient.”
“You owe me a fight, man,” Whittaker said of Bisping.
Souza (24-5, 1 NC) had a two-fight win streak snapped.