Ronaldo Souza will have to make up a size difference to overcome the favored Jan Blachowicz in the main event of UFC Fight Night 164 in Sao Paulo, Brazil this Saturday.
Blachowicz is listed as a -177 favorite by DraftKings Sportsbook, which sees “Jacare” Souza as a +145 underdog.
Souza Moves Up in Weight for Late Career Push
The 39-year-old Souza (26-7) may be past his prime, but that doesn’t mean he’s done with trying to be relevant in the UFC. Like many other aging fighters before him, Souza has decided to move up a weight class, going from 185 to 205 in order to make for easier weight cuts. That often translates when stepping into the Octagon into improved stamina and better overall fitness.
With Souza coming off three losses in his last five fights, it was time for a change for the man who had been one of the stalwarts of the middleweight division. That means going up against Blachowicz, a ranked light heavyweight. That shows Jacare didn’t want any easy matchups to get him used to the new weight class.
This is great for me,” Souza told UFC.com. “Fighting in my hometown, in a new weight class, in a main event against a top fighter like Jan is a great opportunity for me and I’m happy because everything’s changed in my life. I just have to go there and beat Jan and that will make me more happy.”
That may not be an easy task. Blachowicz (24-8) will be bigger and stronger, and might not give up much in the way of speed or his abilities on the ground, especially at this stage in Souza’s career. Blachowicz is 5-1 in his last six fights and sees himself as working towards a title fight against Jon Jones. First, however, he’ll need to deal with the opponent that the UFC has put in front of him.
“You have to be prepared for the best in every fight,” Blachowicz told MMA Fighting. “I don’t care if it’s someone cutting down from heavyweight, or moving up from middleweight to light heavyweight. It’s just another opponent, and I have to do a great job.”
Craig Heads Into the Lion’s Den vs. Rua
There’s more light heavyweight action on tap in the co-main event, as Mauricio Rua (26-11) takes on unranked Paul Craig (12-4). Rua may not be a title contender at this point in his career. But the 37-year-old has won four of his past five fights, and is being matched up against a man who is unlikely to test his chin, something that has been a weakness for the Brazilian in the last few years.
What Craig can do is get opponents to tap out, as that’s how he has captured 11 of his 12 career wins – sometimes in the final seconds of fights. And while “Shogun” Rua may not be at the peak of his powers, Craig still says that he’s amped up to face a legendary name.
Every fight you go into is important, but this one is special because getting to share the Octagon with a legend, an MMA icon, everybody knows who he is, and we’re in his hometown,” Craig told UFC.com. “To go into the lion’s den and face the lion himself? It’s a cool experience.”
Rua comes into the bout as a -265 favorite over Craig (+205).