UFC 208 Jacare Souza vs. Tim Boetsch: The Adaptable Alligator

Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza takes on Tim Boetsch at UFC 208 in a match-up which left many fans scratching their heads in bewilderment when it was first announced.

Tim Boetsch, I’m sorry, come again? With the depth of field in terms of talent and big names in the UFC middleweight division, it was beyond surprising to see the third-ranked middleweight Jacare matched up against Boetsch who doesn’t even make the cut into the top ten.

What about Luke Rockhold? Surely he was eyeing a return against Jacare in February or March, no? Ok, how about Robert Whittaker, he’s flying high on a six-fight win streak, that would be a great match-up! Nevertheless, Jacare isn’t frustrated with UFC’s decision to book him against ‘The Barbarian’, he’s actually glad.

Although Jacare’s last fight was back in May of last year at UFC 198, that night he beat a Vitor Belfort who was ranked fourth in the division, quite a back step considering he was confident of a title-shot following that impressive win. For Boetsch, it’s two finishes in two, beating Rafael Natal back at the memorable UFC 205, and Josh Samman (who is sadly no longer with us) in July of last year.

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The Evolution of Jacare

You could make the argument that Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza is one of the greatest BJJ practitioners in the UFC today. Interestingly enough, he actually holds a grappling win over fellow BJJ great and UFC heavyweight Fabricio Werdum, way back in 2004. Regardless, Jacare has recently combined his outstanding ground game with some sharp stand-up skills, making his presence that ever bit more intimidating when he steps inside the octagon.

Souza’s last fight against Vitor Belfort at UFC 198 showed his development as a mixed martial artist. Arched over, chin tucked, Jacare used lots of feints to not only pose the threat of his strikes but also takedowns.

It was the forward pressure of Souza that shut down Belfort’s naught-to-sixty blitz and forced ‘The Phenom’ up against the cage, in which Jacare would eventually dart in for the takedown attempt. Due to the Brazilian’s recent improvements in his game, the threat of his ground-and-pound is just as dangerous as his submissions, Belfort found this out the hard way.

Jacare doesn’t need to stand with Boetsch to prove the power in his hands. He could, but on paper, it wouldn’t be the wisest option. For Jacare to walk away with the win, he should attempt to emulate the performance he put on against Belfort. Frequent fakes, set-up the takedown, and the world is his oyster on the canvas.

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The Boetsch Bomb

Whenever Tim Boetsch’s name is brought into the equation, his iconic comeback over Yushin Okami at UFC 144 is a memory of ‘The Barbarian’ that never seems to fade away. After losing two one-sided rounds against Okami, Boetsch put it all on the line and stunned everyone when he knocked out Okami in the third and final round with devastating uppercuts, even Joe Rogan was as shocked as the rest of us watching as he yelped, ‘WHAT A COMEBACK!’

The beer-bellied Boetsch certainly lives up to his nickname of ‘The Barbarian.’ Very physically strong, it could be argued that Boetsch puts all his eggs in one basket, as he relies on his anvils of fists to seal the deal in his fights.

This judgment couldn’t have been so fitting in Boetsch’s last fight, knocking out Rafael Natal at UFC 205 last November. Using push kicks to the body of Natal and constant pressure to keep him on the end of Boetsch’s punches, it was eventually the trademark right hand that got the job done for Boetsch. What made it more impressive is he needed next to no wind up on the punch, evidencing the sheer power his punches have.

Make your weaknesses your strengths. If there is an aspect of Boetsch’s overall game that needs improving, it’s his ground game. He has previously been outclassed by the likes of Luke Rockhold and Mark Munoz on the canvas, and of course, Yushin Okami before ‘The Barbarian’ managed to pull off the comeback.

Even if Boetsch can’t avoid the takedowns of Jacare, he needs to stay active on the bottom and pose any kind of threat to Souza. Otherwise, he will have his guard sliced through like hot butter, and no doubt Jacare will walk away with the win.

This fight has very different implications for Souza and Boetsch. A win for the Brazilian should guarantee him a title shot, but in today’s UFC that is never quite the case. On the other hand, it’s no stranger for Boetsch to be the underdog coming into a fight, but an upset win in this one could propel him up into the top ten of the division.

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