MMA Ratings Podcast

April 27, 2019

UFC Ft. Lauderdale: Jacare vs. The Joker Is A Pivotal Fight For Both Men At 185

By Adam Martin

After several changes, this weekend's UFC card seems to be set. UFC Ft. Lauderdale will be headlined by a middleweight bout between Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Jack "The Joker" Hermansson, and in a middleweight division that is going through transition, with champion Robert Whittaker sidelined with injury and Israel Adesanya the new interim champ, this fight between "Jacare" and "The Joker" could help determine the pecking order at the top of the weight class.

Jacare-Hermansson is a great fight, but how we landed on this as the main event of the card took a lot of moving parts not coming together. Originally this event was supposed to take place in Miami, but scheduling conflicts pushed it over to Ft. Lauderdale -- Sunrise to be more specific. The main event was originally supposed to be Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa, but Costa was pulled from the card and replaced by Souza. Then Romero got injured and was replaced by Hermansson. Not only that, but it was supposed to be broadcast on "big ESPN" at first, but was eventually shifted to ESPN+ after the main event changed.

It's disappointing we won't get to see the rematch between Romero and Souza, but this fight between Souza and Hermansson is arguably better, and it's arguably more important for determining the next title challenger at 185 lbs. Assuming Whittaker returns to full health, he'll face Adesanya later this year. But an injury to either fighter means the show has to go on, meaning Souza or Hermansson -- whoever wins this fight -- could slip into that role of #1 contender.

For Jacare, it's a long time coming. At 39 years of age, he's one of the oldest fighters currently competing at 185 lbs, but he's still one of the best in the world. He's coming off of a brutal KO win over Chris Weidman at UFC 230, and prior to losing a controversial split decision to top contender Kelvin Gastelum, he knocked out Derek Brunson in stunning fashion. He is arguably the best fighter in UFC history to have never fought for a belt, and at his age he absolutely needs to get a win here against Hermansson if he wants to keep himself in that title conversation. Even though he's been involved in plenty of big fights of the years, this is arguably the most important match of Souza's career.

The same can be said for Hermansson. The Swedish-Norwegian import has gone on a nice win streak as of late, with his third straight finish coming over David Branch last month at UFC on ESPN 2, after victories over Thales Leites and Gerald Meerschaert. At 30 years of age, he appears to be in his fighting prime. He has long been an underappreciated middleweight, but has never had the resume to back it up until now. Jacare is by far the best opponent he's ever had, and this is going to be a tough fight for him, but considering how good he's looked as of late, many believe "The Joker" is a live dog in this fight. If he can go out there and upset Souza, we could be talking about Hermansson as a title contender.

A fight between Souza and Hermansson might not be a prototypical main event, but it's a very solid fight between two men jockeying for position in a crowded division. Souza is one of the most well-rounded and dangerous fighters in middleweight history and badly wants to fight for the title, while Hermansson is one of the top up-and-comers in the division, and he's looking to reach title heights himself. What a great matchup between two of the best in the world at 185 lbs, as the main event of UFC Ft. Lauderdale will be a pivotal matchup for both fighers.

UFC on ESPN+ 8
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza vs. Jack Hermansson

UFC on ESPN+ 8: Jacare vs. Hermansson (formerly UFC on ESPN 3: Romero vs. Jacare 2) takes place April 27, 2019 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN+ 8 Pre-Fight Analysis

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