UFC middleweight contender thinks people are underestimating Michael Bisping
The man whose injury opened the door for Michael Bisping's title shot thinks the British veteran is not getting the respect he deserves.
Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza had been first in line to replace Chris Weidman in the UFC 199 co-main event, but a knee problem suffered in his defeat of Vitor Belfort saw him turn down the opportunity.
That means Bisping will face Luke Rockhold for a chance to avenge his UFC Fight Night 55 defeat, and Jacare believes it will be a much closer contest than last time, when Rockhold won by second-round submission.
"He's underestimated by many people, but I don't underestimate him. I know what he can do," Jacare is quoted as saying by Fox Sports.
"Bisping is tough, deserves respect. If you let him come, he will do it until the end and might win... At this level we can't underestimate anyone," he added.
But despite rating Bisping highly, the Brazilian is backing Rockhold to hang on to his title - at least until November, when he believes he will get his chance against the American.
Rockhold is one of only two men to defeat Jacare this decade, though the #2-ranked middleweight doesn't count his defeat to Yoel Romero at UFC 194 due to the Cuban's failed drug test.
"My loss to [Yoel] Romero was a robbery and then he got caught [using banned PEDs]. Weidman won't return until November, and I beat Vitor up, so I'm next," he said.
Bisping has finally earned his first UFC title shot at the age of 37, after a hard-fought victory over Anderson Silva at UFC London.
He has suggested the short turnaround time - he has had little over two weeks to prepare for the fight - could be a blessing in disguise.
After losing two title eliminators earlier in his career, the Lancastrian knows this is likely to have been his last chance if he loses to Rockhold. And that makes him dangerous.