Jacare closes door on MMA return but likes boxing match with Costa, would KO Belfort again

Ronaldo Souza and Vitor Belfort square off during the UFC 198 ceremonial weigh-ins in Brazil. | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo Souza isn’t interested in fighting MMA again, but would still like to return to competition in the future.

One of the most decorated fighters to ever transition from jiu-jitsu to MMA and become a top-contender in the sport, “Jacare” hung up his gloves three months after being released by the UFC in August 2021. Yet, going back to the mats for special jiu-jitsu matches isn’t his No. 1 priority at the moment.

“Honestly, I have no desire to fight MMA again,” Souza said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca. “I’ve fought a lot, I’ve done a lot, and I have no interest fighting MMA again. Boxing, however, you train hard but don’t get injured, so it’s something you can do.

“People will ask me how about jiu-jitsu then, but I’ve fought jiu-jitsu my entire life. I’m just a teacher now [laughs]. But we want a different challenge. That’s it.”

The experienced grappler has shown heavy hands throughout his 37-fight career, knocking out high-level opposition in Chris Weidman, Derek Brunson (twice), Yushin Okami and Vitor Belfort. If he does set up a move to boxing, Souza would “definitely” like to run it back with “The Phenom”, who knocked out Evander Holyfield in an exhibition match this past September, but isn’t sure if Belfort would agree to it.

“[People] might say, ‘Jacare is easy to beat, it’s boxing’ and whatnot. Doesn’t Vitor love easy money?” Souza laughed. “Just got there to beat ‘Jacare’ and go home with some money, but I don’t think this fight will happen. All respect to Belfort, I’m not disrespecting him.”

“Jacare” admits he expected Holyfield to give Belfort “some problems,” but liked watching Belfort “tear” the boxing legend up in the squared circle. That said, Souza would “definitely” repeat the result from their UFC 198 clash in Curitiba, Brazil, if they met in boxing, referring to his first-round TKO over Belfort.

But Belfort is not the only Brazilian star “Jacare” has in mind for a potential boxing match. Paulo Costa, a one-time UFC middleweight title contender who’s at odds with the promotion and only has one bout left in his current deal, is another name that interests Souza in boxing.

“I think a match with ‘Borrachinha’ would also be cool because it’s a different generation,” Souza said. “I’m not disrespecting ‘Borrachinha’, I just think it would be a good fight. Everybody would like it, different generations. ‘Borrachinha’ [has] heavy hands, let’s see it ‘Jacare’ can take it, that sort or thing.”

“That would get a lot of buzz, no doubt about it,” he continued. “He’s still fighting in the UFC, he has a contract, I don’t know if he would leave to box. Let’s see. I think it would be cool. Ask him if he would do it.”

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