UFC on FOX 24 Betting Breakdown: Jacare Souza vs. Robert Whittaker

Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at a main card fight at UFC on Fox 24 as Top 10 middleweights collide with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza taking on Robert Whittaker.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (Record: 24-4, -230 Favorite, Power Ranking: A+)

The Team Black House / Team Nogueira trained fighter enters this bout on off another dominant submission finish. He made quick work of Tim Boetsch in Brooklyn at UFC 208 and is back in action just two months after that victory. Jacare holds a 7-1 record in the UFC with his lone loss a controversial split decision to fellow title contender Yoel Romero.

When it comes to Jacare, his game begins and ends with his submission grappling. Jacare has perhaps the highest level of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of anyone in the UFC. He’s a two-time ADCC submission wrestling gold medalist and a four-time gold medalist in the absolute division of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Going to the ground with Jacare is not an option; he’s widely considered, along with fellow Brazilians Demian Maia and Charles Oliveira, as one of the best submission grapplers in the sport. Of Jacare’s 24 career wins, 17 of them have come by submission. Over the years, Jacare has improved his stand-up quite a bit. In just the past few years, he’s earned first round knockouts of Top 10 middleweights Vitor Belfort and Derek Brunson. Jacare is a durable fighter having only been finished twice in his career. If it weren’t for a log jam at middleweight, Jacare would have already been granted a middleweight title shot.

Robert Whittaker (Record: 18-4, +190 Underdog, Power Ranking: A-)

Perhaps the best MMA fighter to ever come out of New Zealand, Whittaker has won six fights in a row including a quick first round stoppage over Derek Brunson in his last outing. Whittaker is one of the youngest fighters in the division and has quickly made his way up the rankings.

Whittaker has become one of the most exciting fighters in the weight class. Whittaker’s approach is striking-focused. He uses a variety of leg kicks from distance and then combines that with excellent hand speed to land well timed jabs from distance. Even though he’s one of the smaller fighters in the weight class, he does a good job at getting inside and striking with opponents. Hand speed is key for him with his volume-heavy approach (5.07 significant strikes per minute). His striking defense is certainly a question mark, absorbing 4.09 significant strikes per minute. He holds his hands very low and relies on head movement to get out of range. While he does that fairly well, he is open to being hit and taking damage. He does have a very good chin; knocked out only once in his career. Whittaker is able to focus on striking as he has excellent takedown defense (93 percent), and when he has been taken down, he has the ability to scramble quickly back to his feet. The last fighter to put Whittaker on the mat was Court McGee back in 2013.


This is a tremendous matchup and perhaps the best fight on paper at UFC on FOX 24 in Kansas City. Jacare is an established middleweight kingpin and arguably one of the Top 15 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. Whittaker has been put in a position where he can catapult up the division with a victory. On the feet, I expect this to be a pretty competitive fight. Whittaker’s hand speed will give Jacare problems. Jacare is a good athlete and will look to close distance. Whittaker has shown to have excellent takedown defense, but the key to this fight for him is whether it will hold up against Jacare. The BJJ ace secures 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon, and he is a clear threat to finish if he can get Whittaker to the mat. Even with Whittaker’s excellent takedown defense, this seems like a very difficult test. It’s a major step up in competition, and he hasn’t had to face a submission expert like Jacare before. Jacare may have some difficulty early on, but once he’s able to get Whittaker to the mat, it will be a quick finish. Whittaker simply doesn’t have the ground game necessary to contend with Jacare’s submission skill set. Whittaker’s time in this division will come, but it will take a loss against the caliber of an opponent like Jacare for him to be prepared for elite competition. Jacare (-230) is just about the maximum I would play him at. I’m more interested in the submission prop and will be looking at that line once it opens closer to fight day.

Written by Jay Primetown

Leave a Reply

Full UFC on FOX 24 Opening Betting Odds

MMA Pros Pick – Rose Namajunas vs. Michelle Waterson (UFC on FOX 24)