Jacare Souza fights Chris Camozzi at middleweight in the co-main event of UFC on Fox 15 on April 18, 2015 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
It's a chance to watch one of the most exciting middleweights do his thing.
It's a chance to watch a zebra get armbarred by the lion.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
History lesson / introduction to the fighters
Phil: Despite their surprisingly numerically comparable records, anyone with even a passing interest in MMA will know that these fighters do not have similar careers at all. Jacare is one of the best BJJ to MMA crossovers the sport has ever seen. The former Strikeforce champion lost his belt to Luke Rockhold and has been undefeated and utterly dominant since.
He's probably the most legitimate current challenger for Chris Weidman's belt, whereas Chris Camozzi is... a guy. A guy who was often lost in the morass of other guys in the UFC's middleweight division. He had a tough 0-4 stretch, including an uncompetitive loss to Souza himself, culminating in an ugly yet undeserved decision loss to Rafael Natal which led to his release.
David: Jacare is still a fighter I think has the potential to win a title. He's like the grappling version of Anthony Pettis; able to will himself into opportunity. And yet here he is, fighting a guy he beat in his UFC debut. It's definitely a waste of Jacare brand violence, but not really, because the lack of competitiveness should make it that much more violent; something Pride understood so well. It's great to watch these gladiators in the pit against equally matched warriors. But sometimes it's just as entertaining to stick a sword in the overfed politician's hands to remind us that all he's made of is not will, nor strength; just flesh, and germs.
What are the stakes?
Phil: The stakes are weird, largely due to how staggeringly uncompetitive this fight is likely to be. -1300 might actually be underselling Jacare.
I have an enormous if slightly melancholic respect for Camozzi for taking this fight. Whether he has the self-belief that he's going to win, or whether he's just taking the fight because it's a way back into the UFC, both options evince a kind of tragic courage.
I tend to believe that he has some perspective on his career, and that he probably knows he's going to lose, and thus the fight becomes one of those schoolyard questions: "how much money would you take to be beaten up by a professional prizefighter?" Camozzi is answering that question: the money and the job security moving forward that he gets from Zuffa (a company which has already cut him once) is the asking price. It's probably not very high.
David: I mean. Were there stakes when Dennis Hopper walked back into his trailer while Christopher Walken so singularly personified the violent calm before the dialogue storm in True Romance? Was anything at stake when Mac saw those three red dots before resolving his fate? Not really. Except's someone's health. Let's face it. Camozzi is the Nedry to Jacare's Dilophosaurus. Just because Chris is in better shape than Wayne Knight doesn't make his destiny any less assured.
Where do they want it?
Phil: Chris Camozzi is, as mentioned, one of the many "guys" in the UFC's 185lbs division. That said, I'd venture that he's actually better than a fair few of them. He's a sound technician, primarily working with the right jab and the inside low kick from southpaw. He's tough and keeps a good workrate
His problems are really that he does nothing spectacularly well. He has a single layer of takedown defense, and relies on outworking opponents rather than putting them away. He's someone who certainly belongs in the UFC, but he's fighting an opponent who is at least two tiers above him.
David: Camozzi started out 6-2 in the UFC, so he's no chump, despite my best efforts to downplay his relevance. It's just an awful matchup. The thing I do like about Camozzi is that he's a well rounded fighter within a tough as nails shell. He's never been KO'ed, shockingly. The good thing for Chris is that he's effective enough on the feet to emphasize his durability. If he can not get blown out or taken down, he can at least avoid embarrassment. I think.
Phil: Jacare is a wonderful mixture of classic and remixed MMA archetypes. As we've mentioned before, his approach is centered on the old wrestler guessing game between the overhand right and the blast double. In and of itself, this immediately distinguishes him from the standard BJJ clinch-trip-submit approach, although he can of course do all of those things. In recent fights, Jacare has cleaned up on two of his most obvious problems: a slight inability to keep the pace that he sets himself, and a tendency to rely solely on his right hand. He's now packing a wicked left hook which he's increasingly throwing in combination. He doesn't tire, either.
He's still not much of a range fighter aside from a powerful body kick, but he covers distance incredibly quickly and is one of the best in the sport at shifting between strikes, clinch-work, takedowns and submissions with every part being loaded with pure aggression and horsepower.
David: What you said. I'll just add that what allows Jacare's grappling to remain an x-factor is his sheer athleticism. I don't even think he even phase shifts that well, to be honest. It's just his ability to hit the nitrous on the ground that makes his behavior look accelerated despite being a little static on paper (not a lot of variety on the feet). It's why there's nothing outdated about his archetype. He's not a mechanic who needs to figure out how to hook up the iPhone to his 65 Chevelle. His striking allows him to win fights. His grappling will allow him to win titles.
Insight from past fights?
Phil: There's a really obvious answer to this question, but why not look at Chris Camozzi's last UFC fight, against Rafael Natal? Natal is an approximately similar archetype to Jacare, albeit one with a tiny fraction of Souza's athleticism and power, and it took Camozzi until around halfway through the fight until Natal was tired enough for his opponent to start to pull away.
David: I'd rather not watch that bout, so let's go with something everyone can enjoy, like Jacare vs. Gegard Mousasi. I thought that fight was incredibly fun, and just a dominating performance by Souza. Still a little shocked he seemed to stun/get Mousasi's attention with some well placed punches.
Phil: It's not going to affect the actual contest at all, but how much do we hear Goldie talking about how Camozzi finished his last fight? "Fight. Ending. Low-kicks, does Camozzi have, Joe."
David: Well, Jacare is probably the only elite fighter to get knocked out by an upkick. Maybe lightning aimed at the wings of a fly without sheering its body will strike twice.
Phil: He might knock Camozzi out, but I think given the choice Souza probably chooses not to risk hurting his hands. Jacare Souza by submission, round 1.
David: Jacare by RNC, round 2.