Last night, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza returned to the cage for the first time since an April 2017 loss to current UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. His opponent in this comeback fight was established middleweight contender Derek Brunson.
Jacare did not waste this opportunity, loosening his foe’s batteries with a first-round head kick, and shutting him down with a storm of followup strikes against the cage. Relive Jacare’s impressive stoppage of Brunson – and his emotional post-fight interview – in the video at the top of this post.
This Performance of the Night winning defeat of Brunson separates Jacare from his loss to Whittaker, as he returns to winning ways for the first time since his back-to-back stoppage defeats of Vitor Belfort and Tim Boetsch. With this victory, he reaffirms his status as the UFC’s third-ranked middleweight, and improves to 25-5 overall.
Brunson, meanwhile, returns to the loss column after back-to-back knockout wins over Lyoto Machida and Dan Kelly. Now 18-6, he appears to be in good spirits after this loss.
“Definitely not to the top five or anything,” Brunson told MMAJunkie of what comes next for him after this fight. “I’m back to the drawing board. I don’t know. [Jacare] might have a couple more years in the sport. I have a little more years than he has left in the sport. I can still get to that top spot.”
“I can’t blame nobody but myself,” he concluded. “I look at the replay and, man, I cover up a little bit tighter, and we’re still in the fight. I felt really good in the fight, was doing well. I saw myself taking him out, but hey, it didn’t go my way. So it’s just back to the drawing board.”
What do you think comes next for Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Derek Brunson?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/28/2018.