- Jan Blachowicz welcomes Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza to the light-heavyweight division at Fight Night 164.
- Will Souza have success at light heavyweight after 16 years at middleweight?
- Blachowicz is favored to derail the plans of another middleweight moving up to 205 pounds.
On Saturday (Nov. 16), the UFC heads back to Brazil for the third and final time of 2019. The headlining fight of UFC Fight 163 pits Jan Blachowicz, the no. 6-ranked light heavyweight in the UFC, against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Souza is fighting at 205-pounds for the first time after a long run at middleweight.
UFC Fight Night 164 takes place at Ginásio do Ibirapuera in São Paulo, Brazil. The entire card streams on ESPN+.
BLACHOWICZ VS SOUZA ODDS
|Fighter||Odds (as of Aug. 13)|
Blachowicz was on a 4-0 run when Thiago Santos knocked him out in the main event of UFC Fight Night 145 in February. That win earned Santos a shot at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Blachowicz bounced back from the setback with a “Performance of the Night” knockout of former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 239 in July.
Souza, who is the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, has alternated wins and losses over his past six outings. In November 2018, Souza scored a knockout win over ex-middleweight champion Chris Weidman. In his next contest, Souza dropped a decision to Jack Hermansson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 150.
After that April defeat, Souza decided to move to light heavyweight.
Blachowicz, who is a former KSW light-heavyweight champion, scored seven of his nine career submissions before he joined the UFC in 2014. He has since shown a more well-rounded fight game. He is an efficient counter striker and can fight well in close range, something he displayed when he knocked out Rockhold in his most recent outing. Under normal circumstances, I would highlight his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but facing Souza, it’s doubtful that Blachowicz will want to spend any time on the mat.
Under normal circumstances, I would highlight [Blachowicz’s] black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but facing Souza, it’s doubtful that Blachowicz will want to spend any time on the mat.
Souza is one of the best grapplers the sport has ever seen, but he is not a one-trick fighter. Souza has developed strong striking to go along with his intimidating ground skills. Of his nine UFC wins, four have come by way of knockout and four have come via submission. Souza only has one decision victory under the UFC banner. He is a stalking striker who closes distance well, which gives him the option to go for the takedown or continue striking if he has his opponent rocked.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|Jan Blachowicz||Category||Ronaldo Souza|
|3.54||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.25|
|3.11||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.51|
|1.39||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.54|
|0.32||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.95|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
After his win over Rockhold, Blachowicz called for a matchup with current UFC light-heavyweight title-holder Jon Jones. That fight looked like it was close to happening, but the UFC decided to match Blachowicz against Souza. If Blachowicz defeats Souza, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him matched up against another fighter who has called out Jones. That man is the No. 5-ranked Corey Anderson.
Souza is under pressure. After Blachowicz finished Rockhold, UFC president Dana White called for Rockhold to retire. Now, Rockhold had three knockout losses in four fights, so it would be a surprise for Souza to hear the same from White. However, Souza had always been one or two wins away from a middleweight title shot. A win against Blachowicz might put him in the same position at 205 pounds, while a loss would drop Souza’s stock considerably.
This fight will likely be decided by where it takes place and how long it goes. If the contest stays on the feet, Blachowicz should have the advantage. If it goes to the ground, I think Souza will have a slight edge. Neither fighter has shown incredible cardio, but Souza’s style is much more physically draining. If the contest goes past the third round, Blachowicz might have an edge, but it’s hard to say that with 100 percent certainty since he has never fought five rounds. Souza’s last five-round outing came in July 2012 when he defended the Strikeforce title with a decision win over Tim Kennedy.
Pick: Blachowicz (-200)