According to MMAFighting, the middleweight title will be on the line January 29th for Strikeforce as Robbie Lawler takes on champion Ronaldo Souza for the belt at their upcoming show at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
The pair were originally slated to be part of a four-man middleweight tournament to crown a new champion at this past August’s Strikeforce: Houston event for the title vacated when former champion Jake Shields departed for the UFC. However, TDLR commission roles did not allow for the one-night tourney to take place. Instead, Strikeforce decided on a title matchip between Austin native Tim Kennedy and Souza on the same night, which the Brazilian won to receive the middleweight belt. Now Lawler will get his chance as well after a convincing 50-second knockout win over Matt Lindland earlier this month.
The challenger, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, (20-6) is a powerful striker with plenty of experience. Despite being only twenty-eight years old, Lawler has been fighting since 2001 and made his bones in the UFC as a highlight-reel southpaw with a punching prowess and style compared to a violent Mike Tyson. He’s been more up-and-down in recent years with spectacular knockouts over Lindland and Melvin Manhoef, and loses to Renato “Babalu” Sobral and the aforementioned Jake Shields. He’ll look to make it two-in-a-row and a title in his upcoming fight with Souza.
For the champion, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (13-2), this fight is one he will try to use as yet another springboard in his steady ascent since transitioning from his native sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to Mixed Martial Arts. A dominant champion in the grappling arts, with many wins in both the BJJ Mundials as well as the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, Jacare has made the leap to Japanese MMA in April of 2008 and has since gone on to become one of the most highly-touted signings by the Strikeforce promotion, beating Matt Lindland and Joey Villasenor en route to his title win over Tim Kennedy. This bout with Lawler is sure to be one of his biggest tests yet, as the hard-punching Lawler will look to take away the middleweight belt in Souza first defense.
In addition to this championship bout, the January 29th Strikforce event, slated to air on showtime, will reportedly also include a welterweight title defense by Nick Diaz in addition to several other bouts, most notably one between Tim Kennedy and newly-mined Fabricio Werdum BJJ black belt Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Stay tuned for more on this upcoming card as it draws nearer.
Here’s a bonus for BJJ fans – the most watched highlight of Strikeforce Middleweight Champion “Jacare” Souza in grappling action.