On the main card of UFC 256 Kevin Holland will make the walk to the octagon for the fifth time in 2020. However, his final fight of the year is likely his toughest as he takes on perennial middleweight contender, Jacare Souza.
Holland has been on the rise in 2020 and could easily be the Fighter of the Year if he goes out and beats Souza. The Brazilian will be a tough opponent as he has only been finished three times in his professional career.
But is Jacare Souza?
What you need to know about Jacare Souza
Better known by his nickname 'Jacare', 41-year-old Ronaldo Souza hails from Brazil but now resides in Orlando, calling Florida his home.
He made his pro debut at Jungle Fight 1 in 2003 and suffered a first-round knockout loss. Following his debut loss, Souza rallied off 10 straight wins which earned him a fight against Gegard Mousasi for the vacant DREAM middleweight title. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he was knocked out. However, he later went on to compete for Strikeforce and won the middleweight belt back in 2010 with a decision win over Tim Kennedy. He then defended his belt once against Robbie Lawler before losing it to Luke Rockhold.
Jacare Souza then fought three more times in Strikeforce beating Bristol Marunde, Derek Brunson, and Ed Herman before the promotion was bought by the UFC. Once in the UFC, he immediately had success and won five fights straight, including beating Mousasi in their rematch.
However, the pattern of Souza's career is that he has always lost the big fights. In 2015 he dropped a split decision to Yoel Romero when many thought a title shot awaited him if he won. The same thing then happened in 2017 when he lost to Robert Whittaker. As of late, he has not had great success, losing two of his fight scraps. However, context is everything and it's worth noting that his last bout was a controversial split decision loss to Jan Blachowicz.
Although Souza has not fought since November 2019, he is still dangerous on the ground and if he gets it to the mat, the fight is normally over shortly thereafter.
How does Holland match up with Souza?
Kevin Holland is 6-foot-3 and has an 81-inch reach while Jacare Souza is 6-foot-1 with a 72-inch reach.
Holland is a second degree black belt in Kung Fu and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In his career, he has 16 stoppage wins while being stopped in two out of his four losses. Souza, meanwhile, is a fourth degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a black belt in Judo. He has 22 stoppage wins, including 14 by submission, while only ever being finshed three times, all by KO or TKO.
Souza is currently not ranked at middleweight but that is because his last fight took place at light heavyweight. If Holland wins on Saturday, expect "Trailblazer" to become a ranked contender at 185lbs.