Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is going to attempt to defend his title for the second time this weekend when he takes on American Kickboxing Academy product Luke Rockhold.
Souza spoke with MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani about facing the surging 26-year-old and about what his future as a champion in the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce may hold.
“Luke Rockhold is a great guy, a good fighter,” said Souza through an interpreter. “He has all the reason to be there to fight me. I’m just gonna do my job, go there and do my thing.”
For Rockhold, Souza presents a serious step up in competition; so far, Rockhold has spent most of his eight-fight career competing against less-heralded opponents on Strikeforce Challengers cards. Rockhold is currently riding a six-fight winning streak which saw him finish each bout in the first round, but Souza believes he can negate the younger fighter’s momentum with his experience against top-flight competition.
“I have more experience than him so I wanna use that as an edge, as an advantage,” he said. “I know he’s a good stand up guy, good grappling guy, good takedowns, so I’m gonna use my experience to go there and get the victory.”
With former Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz already having abandoned ship to face his UFC counterpart Georges St-Pierre, former heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem and current light heavyweight champ Dan Henderson flirting with the promotion, it seems clear that Strikeforce’s best are slowly transitioning into the UFC’s ranks. For his part, Jacare is just going to keep working away, telling Helwani that he’ll answer the bosses’ call, whatever it is.
“It’s up to the boss. I’m just gonna keep training and get ready,” said Souza. “Wherever they send me, I’m gonna fight. Zuffa owns the whole thing. They own both shows, so it’s up to them. If they want to send me to the UFC, I’m gonna go there and do my job.”
Souza and Rockhold will meet this Saturday night at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio; don’t forget to check back on FightLine.com that night for our live, ongoing coverage of the event.