UFC Champion Robert Whittaker and challenger Yoel Romero headline next month's UFC 225 in Chicago, but Saturday night in Brazil witnessed Jacare Souza and Kelvin Gastelum look to make their case for title shots.
While Gastelum has expressed an interest in returning to the 170 pound weight class that he had trouble making, #8 Souza has been steadfast in remaining at middleweight, even at 38 years of age. With no back-to-back losses, Jacare has kept himself relevant throughout his entire Strikeforce and UFC career.
Souza took the first round with relative ease. He closed the distance and went for a flying leglock before taking top control, stepping over and working an unsuccessful armbar. Gastelum was able to land a couple of punches while Jacare attempted to take him down, but to no avail.
Round two was a war. Both competitors found success in abandoning technique and throwing heavy strikes. Souza was dropped, but managed to find a home for several hooks. This likely sent the two men into the third round looking to decide a winner.
The third round saw more of the same, with Souza staying alive with body punches and quick takedowns that he couldn't sustain. Gastelum tried to return to footwork and technical striking, something Souza wasn't willing to allow him to do. Both fighters gained a great ovation from the Brazil crowd.
In the end, Gastelum earned a split decision that didn't sit well with the crowd. Gastelum addressed and thanked the crowd and stated that he wanted to take on the winner of Whittaker vs. Romero, and said that he would like the fight to happen in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
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