Ronaldo Souza’s bout against Robert Whittaker at UFC on FOX 24 this weekend is a whole lot more meaningful for Jacare than initially thought.
Not only is it between two of the best middleweights in the UFC, but Souza’s upcoming fight is the last one on his current contract with the UFC, MMAFighting.com reported Monday, meaning he will become a free agent after the event.
Souza’s manager, Gilberto Faria, told MMAFighting.com that there has been discussion between the UFC and Souza’s team, but that the two parties were unable to come to an agreement ahead of the Whittaker matchup.
“We’ve been going back and forth (with UFC officials) for a while,” Faria said. “We still have not reached an agreement on his value, but we will continue to talk after the fight.”
Faria said that Jacare is interested in re-signing with the organization — it doesn’t sound like potentially signing with a different organization, like Bellator MMA, is a priority.
“Our goal is to reach a new agreement shortly,” Faria said. “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.”
The UFC typically has a 90-day exclusive negotiation period, followed by matching rights, when its fighters become free agents. Going by that, Souza would not be able to sign with another organization (even if that was his intent) until July.
According to MMAjunkie.com’s Chamatkar Sandhu, Bellator MMA president Scott Coker plans on talking with Souza if the Brazilian reaches the end of the UFC’s exclusive negotiation period without re-signing with his longtime home.
Souza, by fighting out his contract, will follow in the footsteps of many fighters who have also tested free agency recently, including Ryan Bader, Kyoji Horiguchi, Joe Duffy, and, most recently, Gegard Mousasi.
Souza (24-4, 1 NC) is currently ranked No. 3 in the 185-pound division, and boasts a 7-1 record inside the Octagon. Souza is currently riding a two-fight winning streak, with stoppage victories over Tim Boetsch and Vitor Belfort. His only UFC loss was a split decision to top contender Yoel Romero at the end of 2015.
UFC on FOX 24 takes place live from Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., this Saturday, April 15. In the main event, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson looks to tie Anderson Silva’s consecutive title defense record against Wilson Reis. Souza vs. Whittaker is scheduled for the four-fight main card.
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