'Jacare' Primed to Finish Dream GP Run

By Gleidson Venga Sep 22, 2008
A two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu open weight world champion, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza has established himself as one of the greatest submission grapplers in the world. His has been a quick and successful transition to mixed martial arts.

Souza (9-1) will carry a nine-fight winning streak into the middleweight grand prix semi-finals at Dream 6 on Tuesday at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. In his quest for the title, the 28-year-old claims he has trained harder than ever before.

“I’ve trained a lot better for this event,” says Souza, who trained in San Diego, Calif., in advance of the grand prix. “I trained some stand-up in the morning and, in the afternoon, I trained MMA and jiu-jitsu with Saulo Ribeiro, Xande Ribeiro, Fabrício Camões, André Galvão and other great athletes. Even Maurício Rua spent a week here and trained with us. The training -- the technical part and the physical preparation -- was hard.”

Souza will face Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic protégé Zelg Galesic in one grand prix semi- final. The 29-year-old Croatian’s path to the match was far less treacherous. His quarter-final bout with Taiei Kin lasted just 65 seconds, as an elbow injury halted the action and advanced Galesic (9-3). Souza knows what to expect from his challenger, a man who has never gone the distance.

“I hope for everything from him,” says Souza. “I know he has trained for this fight, and I respect my opponent. I know he strikes very well and starts his fights in a very crazy rhythm. I’ll be ready for him. I trust myself a lot.”

Should he defeat Galesic, Souza would face the winner of the other semi-final bout between fast-rising Armenian Gegard Mousasi and Dutch knockout artist Melvin Manhoef in the Dream 6 main event. The Brazilian does not have a preference as to who he would rather meet in the final but believes Mousasi has the edge.

“I expect a very good fight between both of them,” Souza says. “I think Mousasi will win because he’s more complete, but I really don’t have any preference. I’ll face anyone.”

Having two fights the same night might be uncommon for Souza from an MMA standpoint, but he plans to draw on his experience from the countless jiu-jitsu tournaments in which he has competed.

“It will be the first time I’ll be able to do two MMA fights on the same night,” Jacare says. “The preparation is totally different, but I’m getting myself used to recovering to do another fight. You run more risks of suffering an injury, but I hope to do what I know -- fight well and win.”

Souza advanced to the semi-finals with a unanimous decision victory against former Icon Sport middleweight champion Jason “Mayhem” Miller at Dream 4 in June. It was the first time in his MMA career he had gone the distance. Each of his previous eight wins came by submission, all of them inside one round.

An international superstar, Souza has enjoyed the experience of fighting before Japanese fans. He made his debut in the Land of the Rising Sun in April, when he submitted American Ian Murphy at Dream 2.

“The experience of fighting in Japan is very good,” Souza said. “I’ve always dreamed about fighting in an event like this. The organization has been great; it’s a great show, and the fans are the best in the world. I hope they’ll always cheer for me. I promise to always put my heart there in the ring.”
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