Souza’s next fight is Saturday opposite Robert Whittaker at UFC on FOX 24 in Kansas City. Despite his management’s best efforts, it is the final fight on Souza’s current UFC contract.
“We’ve been going back and forth (with UFC officials) for a while,” Souza’s manager Gilberto Faria told MMA Fighting this week. “We still have not reached an agreement on his value, but we will continue to talk after the fight. Our goal is to reach a new agreement shortly. The UFC middleweight belt is Jacare’s goal. With a good contract in place, we will keep fighting the best middleweight talents out there and earn the title shot.”
A former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Souza has lost only one time in the Octagon. During that eight-fight span, only Yoel Romero got the better of Souza, and that came via a controversial split decision that many believe should have gone the other way.
Of his seven UFC victories, Souza has finished six of his opponents, which includes the likes of Mousasi and Vitor Belfort. A victory over Whittaker on Saturday would mark his third consecutive win. Whittaker currently sits at No. 6 in the division.
Souza hasn’t shied away from anyone, and while the division is on hold for a fight between champion Michael Bisping and returning former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, he is still willing to face all comers.
“Jacare is the only guy out there who’s been vocal about fighting either Luke Rockhold or Yoel Romero,” said Faria. “Nobody else is looking for this level of trouble, especially current UFC middleweight paper champion Michael Bisping. Jacare has a tough challenge ahead of him (against Whittaker) and this fight is what matters now.”
Neither Souza nor Mousasi has made many waves about a desire to test the free agent waters and sign with another organization. They’ve both indicated that they would like to negotiate new contracts with the UFC.
Bellator MMA, however, has been extremely aggressive recently on the free agent market, signing UFC veterans Ryan Bader, Michael McDonald, Rory MacDonald, Ben Henderson, Phil Davis, and others. With two Top 5 UFC middleweights hitting the market, don’t expect Bellator to sit idle on the sidelines.