Now almost officially passed over for a title shot, Ronaldo Souza’s manager is fuming over the UFC’s decision to give Dan Henderson a rematch with champ Michael Bisping.
In a text message to MMAjunkie, Souza’s longtime rep, Gilberto Faria, said promoting Henderson as Bisping’s first title defense “makes no sense” because “out of the last nine fights, (Henderson) lost six.”
Faria added, “If you want to do a tribute to ‘Hendo,’ put him in the (UFC) Hall of Fame, not a title shot.”
On the FS1 post-fight show for this past Saturday’s UFC 200 event, UFC President Dana White said the British champ will face Henderson later this year at a to-be-announced event, possibly in Manchester, England, despite “Jacare’s” recent success.
The fight is not entirely official, but White’s confirmation makes it almost certainly so.
The UFC executive is following a lead already set by Henderson (32-14 MMA, 9-8 UFC) and Bisping (29-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC), who verbally agreed online to fight again, seven years after Henderson brutally knocked out the Brit at UFC 100.
Henderson, an honorable mention in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, might have retired with a loss to Hector Lombard (34-6-1 MMA, 3-4 UFC) at UFC 199. But instead, he joined Bisping – who shocked the world by stopping Luke Rockhold (15-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the event’s headliner – as one of two “Performance of the Night” bonus winners for a shocking reverse-elbow knockout.
Henderson afterward said he’d like the now No. 1-ranked Bisping to serve as his final octagon walk. And unlike so many UFC callouts, this one had an immediate effect.
In a subsequent guest post for Champions.co, Bisping welcomed the matchup. Henderson, he wrote, “isn’t really the correct choice for me, but it’s who I want.” While he called No. 5-ranked Souza “a very viable contender” and “probably the most viable,” he also pointed out a loss to Yoel Romero at UFC 194.
“I would like to get my revenge (on Henderson) before he retires,” Bisping wrote. “This is something that I have always wanted. Back in the day he was on (testosterone-replacement therapy), and I didn’t even know what TRT was! His body was enhanced, he was cheating. I’d like to fight him fair.”
So, another roadblock appears for Souza, who two months ago was forced to pass on replacing injured Chris Weidman at UFC 199 due to pending knee surgery.
Faria claims Souza’s knee is no longer an issue and said the middleweight standout is currently training. A September fight would be possible, he added.
But with the champ looking elsewhere, team “Jacare” will apparently have to wait. Faria did not respond when asked whether the middleweight will seek out another fight or remain on deck in case the UFC’s plans change, or, as is common, injury strikes.
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.