UFC officials have been swiftly to ensure that Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza will remain in the Octagon for the forseeable future ahead of the final fight on his contract tonight at UFC On FOX 24.
‘Jacare’ had been set to enter free agency at the conclusion of his fight with Robert Whittaker tonight in Kansas City, but that will no longer be the case, with the promotion signing him up to a new eight-fight deal.
The 37-year-old Brazilian would have been a hot commodity on the open-market given that the BJJ ace is currently the No.3 ranked middleweight in the UFC, having won seven of his eight UFC fights against the likes of Gegard Mousasi, Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami.
With ‘Jacare’ having previously worked under Bellator boss Scott Coker at Strikeforce there had been fears that he could be the latest high-profile star to jump ship, following in the footsteps of fighters like Rory MacDonald, Ben Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Phil Davis and Ryan Bader.
However, this time it appears that the UFC were eager to ensure that one of the key players in their highly competitive185lb division remained in place and have paid him accordingly.
Now all eyes will be on one of ‘Jacare’s’ title contention rivals, Gegard Mousasi, who entered free agency last week.
Currently sitting just one place behind ‘Jacare’ in the rankings after a somewhat controversial win over former champion Chris Weidman at UFC 210, the 31-year-old Mousasi feels like another fighter the UFC can ill-afford to lose.
However, Mousasi has been far more vocal than Souza about wanting to get the best possible deal he can, and as such it’s possible that he’ll take his time and field offers from all-comers in an attempt to raise his worth.