UFC Fight Night 36 Fight Breakdown: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (-400) vs. Francis Carmont (+325)

Costa-Philippou The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 36 is a fantastic middleweight bout between former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and TriStar gym’s Francis Carmont. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Souza as a -400 betting favorite (bet $400 to win $100) while Carmont is a +325 underdog (bet $100 to win $325). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Souza at -420 and Carmont at +300, meaning there has been a marginal amount of action on Souza as the line has tightened up and the odds on Carmont have gotten more tempting. To be completely honest, though, I am surprised this line hasn’t ballooned even higher as I am confidently Souza to defeat Carmont. Here’s why. Souza (19-3, 1 NC) is one of the top middleweights in the game. He is a dangerous submission fighter, an improving kickboxer, and he has fantastic wrestling. In short, he’s one of the most well-rounded mixed martial artists in his weight class and a truly elite fighter. The 34-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is the former Strikeforce champ and holds notable wins over Yushin Okami, Chris Camozzi, Derek Brunson, Robbie Lawler, Tim Kennedy, and Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko. That’s a tremendous resume on paper, and it helps that Souza is an exciting fighter in the cage to back it up. Known for his finishing ability — he’s stopped opponents in 16 of 19 career victories — Souza’s vaunted ground game is world class and in recent years his standup has improved tremendously, making him an extremely dangerous proposition for anyone in the UFC middleweight division. Primed for a big 2014, Souza takes on Carmont in the co-main event of a card in his home country of Brazil. It’s a big stage, and if Souza can showcase his skills in a dominant win, he could earn himself a shot at the UFC middleweight championship. Carmont (22-7) is a training partner of former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at TriStar gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A native of France, Carmont has fit in perfectly in the French-Canadian city of Montreal and his career has really taken off since he moved over to North America in 2011. The 32-year-old is currently riding an 11-fight win streak and is undefeated in the Octagon at 6-0 with wins over Camozzi, Costas Philippou, Tom Lawlor, Lorenz Larkin, and Magnus Cedenblad. A high-level grappler, Carmont has improving standup and is beginning to utilize his reach better under TriStar gym head coach Firas Zahabi. Still, his biggest strengths are negated by his opponent Souza being better than him in those areas, and on paper this is a very difficult matchup stylistically for Carmont. His best path to victory may very well be to wall-and-stall Souza against the cage, but will that happen in Brazil? Likely not. Souza may be 34 but I think he’s just hitting his prime. I believe Souza will be able to fend off Carmont’s takedowns and he will get the better of him on the feet. Although Carmont is a long and rangy fighter with improved standup skills, I believe Souza is a top title contender right now and I see him finding Carmont’s chin with his punches and defeating him via KO in highlight-reel fashion. At -400, I like Souza in parlays as I believe he should be even higher. This is just a bad matchup stylistically for Carmont and I think he should be an even greater underdog than +325 in this situation. I believe that Souza is right there in line for a title shot and I think he knows it, too, so I like that if he wins it’ll likely be via stoppage and therefore the judges won’t have to be involved (we know they love Carmont). There is also a prop on the fight not going to decision at -190 that I think has some value too as I see a finish in this fight.

Written by Adam Martin.

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