RIO DE JANEIRO
During the final stretch of his Rio de Janeiro training camp as he prepared to face Tim Boetsch at UFC 208 on Feb. 11, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza patiently answered questions about his future in the UFC.
The general feeling in Brazil is that Jacare already should be fighting for the belt. However, with champion Michael Bisping sidelined with an injury and Yoel Romero likely the next challenger, the top of the division appears stuck.
The solution? Stay active.
"I fight for my job and to support my family. I need to work,” Jacare said. “I'm happy to do what I do, and the UFC pays me a good salary, so I have nothing to complain about. My life is good.
“Are there a few injustices happening? Yes, everybody sees that. Does it look like my life is bad? No. What can I do? Move on," he added, with a smile on his face.
Even though he seems calm, Jacare does not try to hide the frustration he feels, being shut out of the title picture despite six wins in seven Octagon appearances. In fact, his dissatisfaction is so great that Jacare accuses the champion of choosing his duels, and says if he emerges victorious at UFC 208, his next fight still will not be for the linear title.
"I think the next one could be Romero, because Bisping is a runner. It's a disaster that Bisping is the middleweight champion. He's locked the whole division. The guy does not want to fight, it's boring." -- 'Jacare' Souza
"Bisping is picking his opponents, he's running,” Jacare said. “I have a lot of tough opponents in this division.
Among them: a Californian whose knee injury forced a cancellation of their rematch last November in Australia.
“There's the chicken (Luke) Rockhold, who I do not know if he wants to fight,” Jacare said. “The guy is handsome; he can be a model easily. He's training harder than I am, man! How can he not fight?
"I think the next one could be Romero, because
Bisping is a runner. It's a disaster that Bisping is the middleweight champion. He's locked the whole division. The guy does not want to fight, it's boring."
Despite all of this, Jacare keeps his feet on the ground and knows he needs to beat Boetsch to keep close the dream of fighting for the belt. On Feb. 11, it's going to be just another day of work.
"It's going to be a great event, I'm pretty excited. I think there's no easy fight in the UFC, especially against a strong and experienced athlete like Boetsch,” Jacare said. “I'm going to take a chance. I have in my head that I'm a champion, and the champion always fights."
Jessica Portasio is a digital journalist for UFC.com.br. You can follow her on Twitter @Jeportasio