Jacare: Rockhold “Chickened Out” of Fight

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is determined to prove that he is the best middleweight in the world, but he’s hit some roadblocks at the top. Jacare was set to rematch former champion Luke Rockhold in a #1 contender’s matchup in November, but Rockhold pulled out due to injury. Now, Jacare will stay busy by taking on a much lower ranked fighter in Tim Boetsch.

Jacare has had trouble finding an opponent ever since his dominant victory over Vitor Belfort at UFC 198 in May. Now that he is set to fight in Brooklyn on Feb. 11, he is not bitter that he’s not getting a title shot or a top-ranked opponent — he’s just glad he’s fighting.

Speaking to MMAFighting this week, Jacare said that the other top fighters claiming injury is the reason he’s taking on #14 Boetsch.

“At least I have an opponent and a fight,” Souza said. “Fighters that stayed inactive for a long time don’t do well in the end, so I wanted to stay active. My intention was to fight a top contender in the division, but everyone is hurt.”

Though he wanted to fight Rockhold, who he was set to take on in a Melbourne main event in November, the former champion is still rehabbing a knee injury — though Jacare remains skeptical that Rockhold is actually hurt.

“Rockhold is afraid,” he said. “He said he’s hurt, but I see him training all the time on social media, and then he said he wanted to face Jon Jones in a grappling match in January. That makes no sense. He’s not hurt. If he’s injured, he can’t grapple Jon Jones. That’s impossible.

“It bothers me because I wanted to fight in November. Injuries are part of the sport, it happens, but I never thought Rockhold would fake an injury. At first I thought he was hurt, but now I see he just chickened out. It’s clear he’s not injured.”

The other potential top-10 opponents were also unavailable, Jacare said. Robert Whittaker, who last beat Derek Brunson in the first round, is injured as well, Chris Weidman is recovering from a knockout loss and Yoel Romero is set to face champion Michael Bisping for the title. Though Boetsch is viewed by many as a step down for Jacare, the Brazilian is not underestimating “The Barbarian”.

“This guy is trouble. Tim Boetsch is trouble,” he said. “He has a heavy hand and can complicate anyone, but I will stay focused to put on a great fight and win. His power is incredible. He’s really dangerous. If you blink, you might wake up later wondering what happened.”

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