A middleweight title fight between Strikeforce champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Robbie Lawler is in the works for January 9 in San Jose, California.
MMAFighting.com was the first to report the news, after speaking with Lawler’s camp and a source close to the promotion.
Souza debuted with Strikeforce in December of last year with a dominant submission victory over Matt Lindland and the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt followed up the victory with another dominant one, defeating Joey Villasenor by unanimous decision at “Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery” this past May.
The two one-sided victories earned Souza a shot at the vacant Strikeforce middleweight title opposite Tim Kennedy after former champion, Jake Shields, signed a deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, thus giving up his 185 lb. crown. Souza and Kennedy fought for the full 25 minutes in what was a fairly close bout. However, Souza earned the nod from the judges and took home the belt.
Meanwhile, after his EliteXC middleweight title was discarded following the promotion folding, Lawler has attempted to build his way back to championship status, but has encountered several road bumps along the way, beginning with his disappointing submission loss to the aforementioned Shields at “Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields.”
Following the loss, Lawler got back on the right track in a big way against Melvin Manhoef at “Strikeforce: Miami” this past January. After a lopsided first half to the first round that saw Manhoef take Lawler’s wheels out from under him with vicious leg kicks, the powerful kickboxer was knocked out cold midway through the third minute. However, Lawler’s incredible comeback was marred by a disappointing decision loss to Renato Sobral just under five months later.
Yet even though Lawler entered his fourth Strikeforce bout at an unimpressive 1-2, the promotion could not deny him a title shot following his most recent performance at “Strikeforce: St. Louis”, when Lawler put veteran Matt Lindland out with a vicious combination. At 2-2 with the promotion, the H.I.T. Squad product now has the opportunity to fight for gold.
The middleweight bout, which is set for January 29 in San Jose, California at the HP Pavilion, will possibly serve as the main event, mainly due to the fact that Fedor Emelianenko is now not expected to return at that date. A middleweight match up between Tim Kennedy and Jason Miller is also likely for the card, while Herschel Walker, whose return to action was set back earlier this year due to injury, is expected to fight in San Jose as well.