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Maggie Hendricks

'Jacare' wins Strikeforce middleweight belt with decision over Kennedy

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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In the fight that decided the winner of the vacant Strikeforce middleweight belt, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza won a unanimous decision over Tim Kennedy, with the judges cards reading 49-46, 48-47, 48-47.

Jacare, known as one of the world's best in jiu-jitsu, kept the first round standing, landing effective strikes in the first round. Kennedy counterpunched, but Jacare had an answer for every offensive move that Kennedy made. That continued into the second round. Jacare wore down Kennedy, though Kennedy did stuff Jacare's takedown attempt.

In the third round, Jacare opened up a cut over Kennedy's left eye with a big right hand. Not long after his face started bleeding, Kennedy took Jacare down, but surprisingly, Jacare did not want to stay there. He got out from under Kennedy and brought the fight back to its feet for the rest of the round.

In the fourth, Kennedy seemed to land more punches, but they did not cause much damage. With about a minute and a half left in the fourth round, Kennedy landed an indavertent blow to Jacare's groin. Jacare was given time to recover, with while Kennedy's eye continued to bleed. The fight was delayed longer because of a problem with the fight clock.

Kennedy's striking improved in the final round, but in the last 30 seconds of the round, Jacare landed two flush strikes that wobbled Kennedy. Kennedy answered with a takedownm bringing Jacare to the ground for a millisecond before Jacare leapt to his feet.

After the decision was announced, Kennedy was confused and upset with the call from the judges.

"The best grappler in the world couldn't get me down, and I took him down a few times," Kennedy said. "I've said it before. I don't like judges. I won't be here again."

The fight was as close as prognosticators expected, but Jacare's striking was effective throughout the match. The grappling expert showed that he is just as comfortable on his feet as he is on the ground, and because of that, he is the newly crowned Strikeforce middleweight champ.

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