Kelvin Gastelum managed to edge out Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza by split decision tonight at UFC 224 in a fight that saw both fighters having big moments.
Jacare misses with an early kick and then tries for a takedown that doesn’t work out either. They clinch up and jockey for position against the cage. Jacare looks significantly bigger than the former welterweight up close.
A couple of knees for Jacare now. Now he’s digging in body punches along with the knees. Jacare goes for the takedown now, working a high single, but Gastelum is showing great balance.
Jacare tries to chop at his other leg, but then opts to change strategy and rolls for a leg lock then cleverly sweeps on top. This is exactly where Jacare wants to be and he slickly moves to side control.
Half the round remaining and Souza is methodically working to pass Gastelum’s guard, moving to full mount. Gastelum fighting to get out of that, but again Jacare secures it.
A little ground and pound from Jacare. Now a couple of elbows. Jacare suddenly goes all in on an armbar. He doesn’t quite have it, but as Gastelum adjusts his position, Jacare does the same and from his back starts to work hard for this armbar.
Jacare lands some punches and then finds more purchase on the submission, but in the final seconds of the round Gastelum manages to escape.
Missed kick attempt from Jacare. A couple of off-balance punches land for Gastelum, but Jacare also catches him with a glancing blow.
Gastelum lands a nice punch that gets Jacare’s attention. Gastelum starting to unsettle jacare with punches, but then the Brazilian counters nicely with a hard punch and follows up with a body kick.
Front kick to the body from Jacare. He tries for a flurry, but it doesn’t pay off. Jacare trying for a takedown, but then goes back upstairs with punches and snaps Gastelum’s head a few times.
Big one-two from Gastelum and Jacare gets sat down hard by that. He tries to land more punches, but Jacare survives and tries to buy more time on the mat.
Gastelum is not having that though and asks him to stand back up. Jacare still looks a bit out of it, but starts trying to work his way back into the fight, landing a knee upstairs.
A couple of left hands land for Gastelum and then a right hand. Body kick for Jacare. Hard left lands for Jacare, but Gastelum takes it well.
Another left hook landing for Jacare. Now a right hand. Another left, but Gastelum’s chin is holding up extremely well. Risky stuff though, he doesn’t want to keep getting hit like this. Gastelum with a punch in the final seconds of the round.
Jacare looks exhausted now and staggers on his way back to his corner.
Both fighters embrace before starting the third round. Gastelum unloads with a couple of punches that are blocked, but then Jacare connects hard with a strike of his own.
Jacare looking for a takedown, but Gastelum is quick to stuff that. Body kick for Jacare and then a piston-like straight right.
Another solid right for Souza and a body punch too. Still Gastelum’s chin holding up though. Jacare connects and then clinches. He still looks very tired, but he’s remaining aggressive regardless.
Jacare staggers on a strike, but recovers and then goes for a head kick attempt and then lands a right.
Jacare trying for a takedown. He manages to get the fight to the mat, but only for a brief moment and then they are back upright.
Both men weary here, but now it’s Gastelum who is starting to pick up the pace and put punches together. Not so much of the big power punches we saw earlier in the fight though.
Gastelum lands again. Jacare presses forward and lands cleanly. nice right hands from Jacare and then works in for a takedown. It was well timed, but he’s practically running on empty here. Nonetheless, he doggedly works for it and for a split second has Gastelum down.
Final moments of the round and Gastelum lands and Jacare has to back up to ensure he survives to the end of the fight and takes this to the scorecards.
Both fighters had big moments in this fight then, with Jacare winning the first and Gastelum the second, so it’s all down to how the judges see the third, which was very closely contested, with the Brazilian appearing to be suffering more from exhaustion, but landing some good shots, as did Gastelum.
In the end the judges come back with a split decision verdict in Kelvin Gastelum’s favor (29-28 x2, 28-29).