Ronaldo Souza is making the case to battle UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman…
The 34-year old Brazilian Mixed Martial Artist (MMA) dominated Gegard Mousasi in a non-title bout on Friday night to stake his claim to No. 1 contender status.
Souza (21-3) submitted Mousasi at 4:30 of the third round via a guillotine choke. The middleweight bout headlined a UFC Fight Night event at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut.
A jiu-jitsu black belt, Souza took Mousasi down repeatedly during the 185-pound contest and more than held his own on the feet. He wore Mousasi down from top position in each of the three rounds, eventually leading to the finish.
Immediately after the victory, Souza pointed out he finished Mousasi inside three rounds, while it took Lyoto Machida, who fought Weidman for the title in July, a full five-round fight to dispose of Mousasi via unanimous decision in February.
“If anyone doubted [I’m ready for the title], they are completely wrong,” Souza said. “Lyoto fought this guy for five rounds. I finished him.”
Seeking the 15th submission win of his career, Souza came close to producing a tap late in the round, but Mousasi held on to see the third.
A tired-looking Mousasi managed to land a few straight punches and a left hook to start the third, but he surrendered a takedown 90 seconds in. A right hand caused a welt to form under Mousasi’s right eye and he fell into the guillotine moments later.
For Souza, the win avenges a first-round knockout loss to Mousasi in September 2008. That fight, which took place in Saitama, Japan, ended when Mousasi knocked him out cold with an upkick from his back.
It also improves Souza’s UFC record to 4-0, with three finishes. Weidman (12-0) is scheduled to defend his title for a second time against Vitor Belfort at UFC 181 on Dec. 6 in Las Vegas.
Despite the impressive victory, Souza is at least one fight away from a title shot, according to comments made during the postfight news conference by UFC president Dana White.