Strikeforce Champion “Jacare” Ready To Brawl With Anyone, Except “Mayhem”

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (14-2 MMA, 4-0 SF) says he’s not one to pick fights when it comes to the next challenge ahead.

But there’s one challenge in which he has no interest, and that’s a third meeting with Jason “Mayhem” Miller.

Following the first successful defense of his 185-pound crown this past Saturday against Robbie Lawler (20-7 MMA, 2-3 SF), Souza scoffed at the prospect of again meeting Miller, who’s expected to face the man he beat to win the title, Tim Kennedy.

Souza and Lawler served as the co-main draw of “Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg,” which took place at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., and aired live on Showtime. There were 9,059 fans in attendance, according to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker.

Miller vs. Kennedy is targeted for the as-yet-unofficial “Strikeforce: Columbus,” and many observers have speculated that it might carry title implications.

But upon hearing Miller’s name, Souza’s demeanor changed.

“You kidding me? I beat this guy two times, man,” Souza, who won his belt this past August, said. “No more.”

Prior to the suggestion, the Brazilian champ was all smiles. He had just defeated a dangerous, heavy-handed striker in Lawler, and no less after surviving a hairy first round in which he got badly rocked by punches.

“I said, ‘Man, now I really have to beat him,'” Souza said through a translator. “We still have five rounds.”

According to CompuStrike stats, Souza landed 48 strikes to Lawler’s 23 and pitched a virtual shutout when in the ground striking department. Lawler managed a minor victory in arm strikes landed – nine to Souza’s two.

For the most part, though, it was all Souza. Lawler couldn’t seem to get going after initially hurting the champ.

Prior to the fight, Souza said the key to victory was finding the right moment for the takedown. He had little difficulty doing so and took the action down on four out of six attempts, according to CompuStrike. While dominating Lawler on the mat during the second, his corner told him to set up his submission game with strikes. So he grabbed a knee and then fired backward punches at Lawler for more points.

Lawler quickly found himself on his back again in the third and went into survival mode when he attempted to stand and found Souza drawn to his back like a magnet. Souza shortly thereafter sunk in a choke, and it was all over at the third round’s two-minute mark.

“I love my work – it’s my job,” he said at the post-fight press conference before deferring to the translator.

Souza said he logged time with Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante prior to the fight in addition to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and UFC heavyweight contender Junior Dos Santos.

“Every fight that I fight, I feel that I’m getting better,” he said. “All the time that I put in the gym with my great team is unbelievable, and I feel every day that I’m getting better in my takedowns and on the feet, and even in my jiujitsu.”

The question, now, is what’s next for the champion if there are conditions on the opponents who vie for his belt. Coker declined comment on Souza’s statement, but added an announcement on a second title defense will be forthcoming.

“He’s one of the martial artists that continues to evolve his skill,” Coker said of the decorated submission grappler turned MMA champ. “His wrestling is improving, (and) his standup is improving. He’s not just waiting on his jiu-jitsu to hold him into a fight. Now, he’s a complete fighter, and I look forward to the ‘Jacare’ of six months (or) a year from now.”

Miller, meanwhile, has twice fought Souza under the DREAM banner. Their first fight ended in a unanimous decision for Souza, and a subsequent rematch ended in controversy when Miller threw an illegal upkick that cut Souza and rendered him unable to continue. The two have sporadically sparred in the press since.

For now, though, Souza would rather forget that.

“I fight for my family, and I fight for you guys and my fans,” he said. “I’m the happiest man in the world when I’m here.”

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