Who is Ronaldo Souza?
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza is a Mixed Martial Arts fighter who currently fights in UFC’s middleweight division. One of the most looked upon fighters in the UFC. In order to cope with the death of one of his very good friends as a teenager, he immersed himself into Jiu Jutsu, which later became his way of life. Ronaldo trained under Henrique Machado, who guided him in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu, in which Ronaldo later created a big name for himself, winning five world championships. Before embarking into the world of Ultimate Fighting Championship, which also happens to be the biggest world stage for MMA, Ronaldo competed under DREAM and Jungle Fight promotions, earning quite a name. Souza is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. Ronaldo made a winning entry into UFC in 2013 and since then, he has won most of the fights and earned several honours such as ‘Performance of the Night’ and ‘Submission of the Night’.
Childhood & Early Life
Ronaldo Souza was born on 7th December 1979 in Vila Velha, Brazil, and his family later moved to Cariacica. As a kid, Ronaldo was a big football fan as the sport has always been a rage in the South American country. He was part of the school team and played mostly as a goalkeeper. Although, he was interested into sports since his early days, but football didn’t interest him much when it came to make a future, but he somehow always wanted to become an athlete.
His locality was more of a ghetto, and crimes were very common around his house. On one unfortunate day, he saw through his own eyes, the murder of his best friend. The experience was traumatizing for a 15 years old Ronaldo and that along with the tough conditions they were living under, his mother thought it would be best if they left the town. Ronaldo moved to Manaus, near Amazon to live with his brother; he knew he needed to something worthwhile with his life to move over the trauma of having seen the death of his best friend in front of him, and that too on his birthday.
Two years passed after that unfortunate incident and Ronaldo was slowly recovering, when he met Henrique Machado, a BJJ black belt and one of the most popular Jiu-Jutsu teachers in the region. Machado understood the immense potential the kid had and immediately started training him. Ronaldo first laughed off and said that he wasn’t interested but as he started to train mentally and physically for Judo, his interest rose and he learned quickly to become one of the famous BJJ practitioners.
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Ronaldo Jacare Souza later got a black belt in Judo. Ronaldo became the undisputed champion in the lower belt formats in Jiu Jutsu. He won many tournaments at the state level, before the 2003 World Championship Brown Belt Division, in which Ronaldo won almost all his fights, barring one. This success turned him into a minor celebrity locally and his fame was further enhanced when he received the Black Belt from his master Machado.
After securing five world championship honours in the Brazilian Jiu Jutsu and Judo, Ronaldo eyed the Mixed Martial Arts. MMA seemed a far more lucrative sport and more suitable to the fighting style of Ronaldo. In his MMA debut in September 2003, he had a rocky start and lost his first match in a clean KO in the first round itself. In the next four matches, Ronaldo made a solid comeback and defeated all his opponents with submissions.
In a 2006 match against Randy Couture, who happened to be a UFC Hall of Famer, Ronaldo managed to steal victory from him and was later invited by him to train in his gym, and in the next few fights, he scored wins with the submissions, resulting from intense training he received under Randy. His Arm Triangle Choke technique was proving to be invincible and Ronaldo stole most of the wins in the first rounds itself.
In 2008, Ronaldo caught the eyes of DREAM, a Japanese MMA event, and was invited to participate in the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix and continued his winning streak. He defeated his opponent in his debut match and went on to win several following fights to steer his way into the finals. But the luck didn’t support him this time and despite his constant efforts to surprise Gegard Mousasi with his submission moves, he was unable to grapple his opponent and eventually lost the fight.
In the Strikeforce, another big MMA promotion, Ronaldo made his debut against Matt Lindland in December 2009 and won the match using his arm triangle choke, his most lethal weapon. In 2010, he got his hands on Strikeforce Middleweight Championship by defeating Tim Kennedy and later lost it to Luke Rockhold after successfully defending against Robbie Lawyer.
In the following matches on Strikeforce, Ronaldo’s submission moves kept wreaking havoc on his opponents and in January 2013, he made the biggest switch of his career as he signed with UFC.
Ronaldo defeated Chris Camozzi, his first opponent using an arm triangle choke in the first round and in his second match, Ronaldo knocked out his opponent Yushin Okami, again in the very first round.
In a September 2014 fight against Gegard Mousasi, Ronaldo choked him to submission in the third round and won his first ‘Performance of the Night’ honour. Another Performance of the Night honour came to him in May 2016, when he knocked out his opponent Vitor Belfort in the first round.
Ronaldo had to face Luke Rockhold in a rematch in November 2016, but the bout was cancelled due to an undisclosed injury faced by Luke. Ronaldo didn’t have any replacement fighter and the fight was officially cancelled. In February 2017, Ronaldo faced Tim Boetsch and won the match in the first round, where Tim gave in to a triangle choke and submitted.
Ronaldo Souza is married to Larissa Carvalho. He likes keeping most of his private life to himself and hence, not much is known about his wife and children.
Ronaldo is a keen believer in god and when talked about not getting the desired fights due to his aging maybe, he clarifies that he prays to god for giving him good fights, and when he feels no longer fit to fight, he will say goodbye to the sport for good, thinking of it as god’s will.
He is a keen traveller and mentions the USA as his favourite tourist destination and whenever he is not busy in the preparations of his UFC matches, he likes to roam around the United States.