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Maggie Hendricks

'Jacare' Souza keeps belt with win over Lawler at Strikeforce


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Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza defended his Strikeforce middleweight championship belt using the world-class jiu-jitsu he is known for, submitting Robbie Lawler with a rear naked choke at Strikeforce in San Jose on Saturday night.

Jacare took Lawler down early in the first round, but when he switched to a guillotine, Lawler was able to get back to his feet. From there, violent stand-up erupted with Lawler throwing big strikes. He used a knee and a combination of punches to knock him to the ground. For some reason, Lawler followed Jacare to the ground, and was controlled on the ground until they were stood up with just 0:25 left in the round. Lawler finished the round strong, throwing strikes until Jacare tried for another takedown.

In the second round, Jacare controlled Lawler on the ground. He punished Lawler with strikes and tried for several submission attempts, but Lawler showed evolution in his fight game, working out of each and every submission attempt with one of MMA's best grapplers.

That submission defense magic disappeared in the third round, as Jacare took Lawler down early. He took his back, slapped on a body triangle and then slipped in a rear naked choke. Lawler tapped at 2:00 in the third.

The difference in this fight was takedown defense. Though Lawler is now training in Arizona with former All-American wrestlers Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway, he couldn't stop four of Jacare's six takedown attempts.

Souza is undefeated with Strikeforce after fighting for Dream and Brazilian-based promotions, earning a record of 14-2. Lawler, who just signed a new contract with Strikeforce, is 18-7.

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