Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: UFC Fighter & BJJ Black Belt

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: UFC Fighter & BJJ Black Belt

Jacare Souza BJJ is one of the greatest competitive grapplers of the last generation. He has won every major Jiu Jitsu championship multiple times and then became an elite MMA fighter.  

Souza is a born fighter and one of the hardest workers you’ll ever see step into the mats. Though it wasn’t an easy road for Jacare BJJ, this Brazilian fighter has had to scratch and claw for everything he earned.  

This article is the story of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Showcasing everything he went through to get where he is and become one of the world’s best grapplers and MMA fighter. 

Ronaldo Jacare Souza

Jacare's Souza BJJ Upbringing

Ronaldo Souza was Vila Velha in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. It was not an easy life for Souza as the city of Vila Velha was filled with crime.  

At 15, Jacare Souza witnessed his best friend get shot and killed in front of him on his birthday. After this horrible event, Souza’s mother sent him to live with her brother in Manaus. A city residing within the Amazon rainforest that was less dangerous than his home city.  

Like most Brazilian kids, Jacare Souza loved soccer. He played competitively throughout his teen years as a goalkeeper

Jacare Souza BJJ Meets Henrique Machado

When Jacare BJJ was 17, he was playing soccer in the street with some of his friends. A BJJ black belt named Henrique Machado saw Souza playing and thought he had some potential in Jiu Jitsu.  

At first Souza didn’t like Jiu Jitsu when he first tried it out. He got beaten pretty terribly in his first training session. And that’s when his competitive nature kicked in - he was determined to never let that happen!  

Since Jacare didn’t have the best living arrangement, Machado made Souza an offer. He offered Jacare BJJ an opportunity to live in his home and dedicate his life to becoming an elite BJJ athlete. With not much going on in his life, Jacare Souza BJJ jumped at the opportunity and began his BJJ training religiously.  

Jacare's Souza Early Jiu Jitsu Days

Not only did Henrique Machado become Jacare’s teacher, he became his mentor and a father figure. He taught Jacare the ropes, not only in Jiu JItsu, but he also gave him proper nutrition and mental training. That mental training Machado showed Jacare proved to be just as important as the Jiu Jitsu he taught him.  

Shortly after taking Souza under his wing, Machado formed the Associação Sensei de Lutas Esportivas(AISLE Academy). Souza was one of the top athletes of Machado’s AISLE Academy.  

Later they joined the Master Team(now Brasa team) to allow Machado’s team to compete internationally.  

Ronald Jacare BJJ excelled immediately winning multiple state championships at a lower belt. Also winning his first world championship in 2001 as a purple belt.  

He would take the nickname “Jacare” that means alligator, which was the symbol of AISLE Academy. His style was just like a Jacare BJJ and he would soon get noticed by the Jiu Jitsu world. 

Ronald Jacare BJJ Wins Worlds at Brown Belt

At brown belt, jiu jitsu Jacare souza had his coming out party to the Jiu Jitsu world. In 2003, he won both his division and the absolute division submitting all but one opponent.  

After winning double gold at worlds in the brown belt division, Machado awarded Jacare souza  with his black belt. He would then also receive his Judo blackbelt not long after that. 

UFC Fighter and BJJ Black Belt Jacare Souza

Jacare's First Try at MMA

Souza first tried to make his transition to MMA in 2003 at Jungle Fight 1. Although it would turn out that he wasn’t ready to make the transition just yet.  

He would lose his pro debut to MMA veteran Jorge Patino by KO in the first round. Even though he lost, Jacare took it as a learning experience – he would come back a year later and won his next match. 

Jacare's  Dominance In BJJ

While Jacare was still trying to learn MMA, he would go on to dominate BJJ. In 2004, Souza made his debut as a blackbelt and competed at the Jiu Jitsu World Championships.  

He would come in 2nd in his division, but would win the absolute division against his nemesis Roger Gracie. Souza BJJ was able to win the match even though Gracie dislocated his arm after an armbar attempt. 

For the next two years, Jacare would dominate the BJJ world and win every major title within the sport. Winning everything from the ADCC championship, European championship, Brazilian nationals, and double gold at the 2005 worlds.

Jacare Goes To MMA Full Time

After accomplishing everything he could in Jiu Jitsu, Jacare made his transition to MMA. Dedicating his training to becoming an MMA champion.  

After losing his pro debut in 2003, Souza would not lose again for 5 years. Within those 5 years he would win 10 fights in a row. Winning all, but one fight by stoppage.  

He would compete in his first major championship at Dream 6 in the middleweight tournament finals. Unfortunately, he would come up short losing to Gegard Mousasi by upkick.

Ronaldo Jacare MMA

Jacare's Souza BJJ Strikeforce Run

After Dream closed its door, Jacare MMA signed with Strikeforce becoming one of the premiere fighters for the organization.   

Souza had a fantastic run in the promotion. Jacare BJJ would win his first two fights before fighting for the promotion’s middleweight championship. Winning a decision against a tough opponent in Tim Kennedy.  

He would defend the belt one time before losing the belt in a close decision against Luke Rockhold. After losing his title, Ronald Jacare would win his last 3 fights before Strikeforce was bought by the UFC. 

Jacare's UFC Run

With UFC buying out Strikeforce, they got many of their fighters, including Jacare who was considered among the best. Souza would continue his winning ways early on to beat his first 5 opponents.  

He almost made it into the middleweight title picture, but he would drop a close split decision to Yoel Romero. Although he would come back and stop 2 top 10 middleweights including former champion Vitor Belfort.  

After that win, Jacare mma would have mixed results in his last 7 fights going 2-5 in those fights. At 41 and coming off of a bad KO loss, Souza’s future is a bit uncertain. 

Jacare's Legacy

Even though Jacare has taken some tough losses as of late it doesn’t undue his incredible legacy. Almost no other fighter has done what Jacare has done. Not many BJJ fighters were able to transition successfully in MMA.  

Winning multiple Jiu JItsu champions and then transitioning to MMA and winning championships in that sport – he’s easily one of the best that’s done it. Jacare Souza BJJ is one of the most decorated combat sports athletes to have ever lived and his story isn’t over just yet!