Welcome to the UFC: Bruno Souza

Bruno Souza, UFC 268
Bruno Souza, UFC 268 Official Weigh-In Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

UFC 268 was set to blow the roof off of Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The card was headlined by welterweight world champion Kamaru Usman, fighting Colby Covington in a rematch from their first fight in 2019. In the co-main event was another rematch. That saw Rose Namajunas, fresh off knocking out Weili Zhang in April to win the strawweight title, running it back in an instant rematch. Along with a stacked main card, there were a slew of promotional debuts on the night. A thriving up-and-comer Melsik Baghdasaryan (6-1) was supposed to fight TJ Laramie, but Laramie pulled out due to bacterial infection. Coming from the number one feeder league, LFA, the UFC signed their featherweight champion Bruno Souza.

Bruno “The Tiger” Souza
Standing at 5’7″
Fighting at 145 lbs (featherweight)
Fighting out of Los Angeles, California, US but from Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil
Training out of Machida Academy
A pro record of 10-1
1 KO/TKO, 2 Submissions

How will Souza fare in the UFC:

Souza was a 2015 world Karate champion and a former national and South American champion as well. Being more of a point fighter doesn’t mean Souza is boring. He’s a joy to watch and has been beating good fighters in LFA. Since losing his pro debut Sousa hasn’t lost since.

Being a karate-style fighter his kicks are his most vital weapon, similar to how a boxer primarily uses their hands. But Souza isn’t only a kicker as in fact, he’s a solid striker as well. Mixing in kicks and punches together in combinations is something Souza does extremely well. With credible movement, his counter striking is very much up to par. Fighting on the outside, the Brazilian has long straight very quick hands. As the fight goes his pace picks up and so does his output. His movement makes him the fighter he is today. His striking and kickboxing are so good and that’s because his footwork facilitates it. The angles he cuts off are important to his striking game as well.

Only a striker, you won’t see Souza attempt takedowns. Souza does have two submissions which are at least passable however. Most of the time when on the mat he’s fighting off his back. Souza has shown to be decent off his back but it’s not up to par. Defensively, Souza’s biggest issue is that takedown defense. Always moving he is hard to get a hold of but once so he’s been put on his back a few times. Against a good wrestler, he may struggle as he did against Mike Hamel. It is evident over his last few fights he’s been able to defend takedowns though.

At only 25-years-old Souza has time to shore up his ground game. When he’s on the feet he’s really good already and as time goes by he’s going to become an even more dangerous fighter. I expect Souza to be in the UFC for a long time. It might take a while for him to hit his stride but I expect him to be a possible staple in the division in the future.

Striking: A-
Kickboxing: A
Clinch: C+
Wrestling: C-
Grappling: C+
Striking Defense: B+
Takedown Defense: C
Cardio: A
Biggest Strength: Kickboxing
Biggest Weakness: Takedown defense

How he matches up with Baghdasaryan:

Both these guys are excellent kickboxers with the accolades to prove it. Both these guys don’t have to worry about the others taking them down since that’s not their style. It’s simply going to come down to who is the better striker/kickboxer. Even though they have similar styles their approach is different. Baghdasaryan is the aggressive striker that puts everything into what he throws and stays technically sound. Souza is more laid back and picks at his opponent. He lets guys come to him and then responds. Against another legit kickboxer, I can’t see the slow approach of Souza working. Baghdasaryan throws much more output, hits harder, and is quicker. Baghdasaryan should win what should be a great fight.