Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza was probably looking to make an argument tonight as to why he deserved to be next in line for the Middleweight title, a title he has been hunting for years.
Instead, it may have been his opponent, Kelvin Gastelum, who made the strongest case for being next in line for the strap.
Jacare shot in early, but Kelvin sprawled. Gastelum then pressed Souza against the fence and worked for his underhooks. Jacare turned the tables on him, though, and tried to work his hooks. Souza landed some body shots then went for a single, but Gastelum showed his superior balancing skills, so Jacare pulled guard.
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Souza moved to half mount and then to full mount. Gastelum caught one of his legs, though, but it didn’t last long. Again Jacare moved to mount. Souza tried to posture up, but Kelvin held him down, only allowing his opponent to land a few short shots.
Jacare then moved to the armbar position, but Gastelum kept the pressure on him. Souza hammer fisted him, but Kelvin was able to survive the round.
Kelvin landed some punches in the second round that forced Souza to run away. Jacare tried for another takedown, but Kelvin sprawled and got away.
Gastelum threw some lefts and rights, but Jacare countered with a right.
Kelvin obviously remembered the first round and circled away from Souza, not wanting to be taken down again.
Jacare went for another takedown. Gastelum didn’t go down, but he did eat some punches.
That wasn’t going to stop the 26-year-old, though. He was throwing punches right back at Jacare and grounded him with a one-two. Souza wanted to play guard, but Gastelum understandably wasn’t interested.
Souza got back up, but looked wobbled. Still, he landed some hard punches, even though he was backing away from Kelvin.
Gastelum pushed forward with some punches but they didn’t land hard enough to do much.
Jacare came in with a big left hand, then landed another and another. Kelvin still seemed unfazed, though, and came in with a cross.
Souza stumbled to his corner at the end of the round.
Jacare looked like he shook some of the cobwebs out of his head in the third. Souza threw a big right, but Kelvin ate it without any problems.
Jacare shot in for a takedown, but no dice.
Souza landed a big right and shot in again. Nothing.
Jacare kept pressing forward, hunting with his right hand and even throwing a high kick.
Souza dove for the single and took Gastelum down, but he didn’t have the energy to keep him down.
Gastelum ate a high kick, but kept coming forward with punches.
Jacare looked winded and kept backing away with his arms low.
In the last thirty seconds, Souza threw a short flurry and for the last time went for a takedown. He got it, but again he couldn’t hold it, and Gastelum ended with some huge punches.
It was enough to impress most of the judges, and Kelvin Gastelum will be leaving Brazil with a win over one of the top fighters in the Middleweight division.