Jacare Souza opens up on mental health struggles

Jacare Souza, Jack Hermansson

Former Strikeforce middleweight champion and long-time UFC middleweight contender Jacare Souza has recently been dealing with some mental health struggles. These issues were severe enough that they almost led him to give up on fighting.

Jacare opened up on this struggles in a recent interview with MMA Fighting.

“Man, I was thinking about stopping (fighting),” he said. “I had a psychological problem, I was burned out. I would drive to the gym and cry in the car and say, ‘Man, what am I doing going to the gym?’

“My wife found a psychologist for me, I’m working on that once a week, and that has helped me a lot. I’m super happy with the opportunity of going back to fighting, I’m happy and excited and training like never before. There are a lot of good things happening in my life. Three months ago, I was crying on my way to the gym, tears would come out of my eyes and I didn’t know why. ‘What am I doing, man? I’ll stop fighting, I don’t want this for my life.’ And all of a sudden things were new again. I have the opportunity to headline a card, I’m excited again, I’m training, you know? ‘Dede’ Pederneiras has been phenomenal, he’s helped me a lot as well. I have no words for him. I already admired him before and now that we’re working together I admire him even more.”

Jacare added that he and his psychologist have identified the cause of his recent mental health issues. That being said, he’s keeping that cause under wraps.

“It’s something that I won’t mention, it won’t be positive for anyone if I mention that, but we’ve identified it,” he said. “Everyone has problems. Where I came from, if someone told me I was having psychological problems I would say, ‘Brother, this guy is crazy. Are you eating crap?’ I would say something like that [laughs]. I have no problem talking about it, I think it’s actually good so people identify that as well. Some people think that those who kill themselves are the ones who have problems, and that’s not cool.

“Honestly, I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to say that my family has helped me a lot, my wife helps me a lot, and that’s what helped me get back up. My wife was the one who found this psychologist for me. I told her, ‘Are you crazy? Why am I going to talk to a psychologist? I’m not crazy.’ And that was the best thing I’ve ever done, to accept it and work on it.”

Jacare Souza will return to the Octagon on November 16, when he will move up to the light heavyweight division to battle Polish contender Jan Blachowicz in the main event of UFC Sao Paulo.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/18/2019.