Ronaldo Souza and Chris Weidman will meet for the first time inside the Octagon at UFC 230, but “Jacare” faces the middleweight contest as a rematch.
Souza has seen Weidman defeat many Brazilians in the eight-sided cage over the past seven years, including his longtime friend and former teammate Anderson Silva, and that adds a personal layer to the fight.
“I have huge respect for Chris Weidman, I like him as a person and as an athlete, but I see it as a rematch, I feel like he had already defeated me before,” Souza told MMA Fighting. “He has defeated many (Brazilians), and I’m going there like if he had defeated me as well — and I never lose twice to the same person, so I’m very confident.”
Weidman went 6-0 against Brazilians in mixed martial arts, five of them in the UFC — Anderson Silva (twice), Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida and Demian Maia. For Souza, a win at Madison Square Garden can finally translate to a shot at the 185-pound title.
“It’s something natural for me,” Souza said. “Whoever wins will be up there. That’s a fact and I don’t even need to talk too much about it. I want to go up (in the ranking). I want to get in there, win — and win convincingly — and then say ‘brother, I’ll sit down and only call me if you’re going to talk about the belt.’
“Everyone else is injured, there’s no one else to fight. My focus is on this fight (with Weidman), of course, but everybody knows that this fight will take me up there.”
Coming off a close split-decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum in May, a fight that pushed his opponent towards a title bout with Robert Whittaker, “Jacare” wants to leave no doubt he’s victorious at UFC 230.
“My fight with Kelvin Gastleum was close, I could have gotten the win,” Souza said. “My body language was weird in the third round and could have mattered for the judges, I understand that, but I landed more strikes. I beat (Yoel) Romero. Every time my fight is close, I lose. I have to go there and win, and win for real. I can’t just kind of win.”
With Whittaker and Gastelum expected to fight in early 2019, the jiu-jitsu specialist stands by his good record in rematches as a factor ahead of a possible second encounter with either one of them for the UFC title next year.
“I never lost twice to the same person. Since my jiu-jitsu days, I never lost twice,” Souza said. “I will do my job and go after what I want. That’s it.”