Middleweight contenders ‘Jacare’ Souza, Gegard Mousasi co-headline UFC 176

Ronaldo Souza (left) and Gegard Mousasi fought once in 2008 with Mousasi winning by upkick KO.

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Ronaldo Souza said he was coming back in August. Now we know who it’s going to be against.

"Jacare" will meet Gegard Mousasi in the co-main event of UFC 176 on Aug. 2 in Los Angeles, according to a report by the Los Angeles Daily News. UFC officials confirmed the bout. The matchup pits two of the very best middleweights in the world with a potential title shot on the line.

Souza (20-3, 1 NC) is coming off surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow. He sustained the injury before a unanimous decision win over Francis Carmont in February. That victory pushed the former Strikeforce middleweight champion’s winning streak to six straight. The 34-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist is currently ranked No. 4 among UFC middleweight contenders.

Mousasi (35-4-2) just fought at UFC Fight Night Berlin on May 31, a first-round submission win over Mark Munoz. It was one of the best performances of his career — and that’s saying something for a former Strikeforce and DREAM champion. Mousasi, 28, has won seven of his last nine fights and is No. 7 in the UFC’s middleweight contender rankings.

On top of that, Mousasi, a Dutchman, has already beaten the Brazilian, Souza, once. The two fought at DREAM 6 in September 2008 and Mousasi won with a rare upkick knockout in the first round. That victory earned him the inaugural DREAM middleweight title.

Now, both men are nearing shots at the UFC middleweight title. Chris Weidman defends the belt against Machida at UFC 175 on July 5. With Vitor Belfort still attempting to be cleared by the Nevada State Athletic Commission following the ban on TRT, the next contender for the title is up in the air and both Mousasi and Souza are absolutely in the mix.

UFC 176 is headlined by a featherweight title fight between champion Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. The event, which will be held at Staples Center, will air live on pay-per-view.