The UFC Fight Night 36 co-main event saw Ronaldo Souza take on Francis Carmont in the first of two pivotal middleweight contests in Brazil. "Jacare" won his last fight against Yushin Okami with his fists, but it was expected that the decorated and highly skilled BJJ practitioner would return to his strength against the Frenchman. Both men came into this bout unbeaten in the UFC, with Jacare 2-0 and Carmont 6-0, and Jacare was the heavy favorite as they entered the cage.
Jacare dominated round 1 and put on a grappling clinic. He completely controlled Carmont's back with the help of a secured body triangle, and he threatened with a deep rear-naked choke towards the end of the round. Carmont escaped and reversed into top position but with only 5 seconds left in the round it was fairly meaningless.
Round 2 was mostly a striking battle, with Jacare landing his powerful right hand early and often before Carmont got into a bit of a groove of his own. Both men went for takedowns that were ultimately stuffed, and when the horn sounded it felt that the winner of round 3 would decide the fight.
In the first minute of the final round, Jacare took Carmont down and effortlessly gained full mount and later back mount, again working for a rear-naked choke that wouldn't come, but ultimately it was all Jacare in the 3rd as Carmont produced little in the way of offense, although credit should be given to him for avoiding Souza's lethal submissions. Official Result: Jacare Souza (20-3, 1 NC) def. Francis Carmont (22-8) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
What was the high point of the fight?
Jacare had a very tight RNC on Carmont in the opening round that looked to be under the chin and strong enough that Carmont would've tapped out. Carmont escaped what was the most serious submission attempt of the contest.
Where do these two go from here?
Jacare is set to have surgery on his injured left arm, so we don't know what the future holds for him. He could be paired up with Luke Rockhold, who dethroned him as Strikeforce middleweight champion in 2011. Rockhold is set to fight Tim Boetsch in April, but if he wins that we could see the stars align for a rematch.
Carmont sees his winning streak come to an end and outside of a few decent striking exchanges in round 2, he didn't really do anything major to try and win the fight. The UFC could either book him against another top 10 caliber fighter coming off a loss like Mark Munoz, or drop him down to the level of gatekeepers such as Ronny Markes or Ed Herman.
Watch now, later, or never?
Later. Definitely not one of those Carmont stinkers we've grown accustomed to seeing, and there was plenty of intrigue and sensational grappling from Jacare in the 1st and 3rd rounds that's worth your attention.