Check out BloodyElbow.com’s recap of the UFC on FOX 24 main card bout between Robert Whittaker and Ronaldo Souza.
Robert Whittaker was given the toughest test of his career at Saturday’s UFC on FOX 24 in Kansas City, Mo., and he passed it with flying colors.
“The Reaper” faced longtime middleweight contender Ronaldo Souza on the event’s main card, and scored a second-round TKO victory.
Whittaker outpointed “Jacare” on the feet in the first round, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist scored a takedown early. Whittaker’s back was taken, but not for long. Whittaker slipped out from his bottom position and returned to the canvas, where he had a major advantage. Whittaker landed a handful of kicks and punches throughout the remainder of the tense first five minutes, and probably won the round.
He was already off to a good start, but Whittaker’s success increased dramatically in the second round. He landed a series of strikes and wobbled Souza with a right hand. An impressive combination involving a pair of head kicks dropped Souza, Whittaker hammered down vicious ground-and-pound, and the referee intervened.
What was the highlight of the fight?
Whittaker’s movement and capability of avoiding getting taken down was very impressive, and only somewhat expected. His footwork appeared to have improved and he only allowed “Jacare” to land one takedown. And against a fighter who’s one of the best grapplers in mixed martial arts, that’s great. Whittaker was able to land his shots at will, and Souza never seemed to get comfortable. Whittaker’s spectacular finish was obviously the highlight of the feature middleweight bout, but Whittaker’s movement and gameplan was still pretty eye-opening, as well.
Where do these two go from here?
Whittaker is a new top contender at 185 pounds. He was already just outside the top five, but now he should be considered in the title mix. The New Zealander lined himself up for a big fight — and I would call it a guaranteed No. 1 contender matchup, but with Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre (maybe) happening later this year, who knows — next against one of the top three fighters (Yoel Romero, Luke Rockhold, and Gegard Mousasi).
This was a big setback for Souza, and it’s a shame, because he’ll probably never fight for the UFC middleweight title, yet he’s been a top contender for years. At 37 years old, I suspect this is the beginning of the end for Souza. If he retires, I honestly wouldn’t be too shocked, even though he recently signed a new eight-fight deal with the UFC (I assume he was banking on a win and maybe even a title shot within one more fight). That said, he’ll probably fight once or twice more, and at this point, it’s too tough to tell whether he’ll decline so much that he loses again or if he ends his career on a winning streak.
Watch now, later, or never?
This was a stunning performance for the 26-year-old. Watch it right away.