Citing money as his main motivation in order to feed his family, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will leave his home in Florida and travel to California for his middleweight bout against Uriah Hall at UFC 249 on April 18. That doesn’t mean he’s any less concerned about the potential health risks amid the current global pandemic.
Despite facing heavy criticism for moving forward with plans,this week headlined by lightweights Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje for the interim 155-pound title. Originally scheduled for Brooklyn, New York, the pay-per-view will reportedly take place on Native American tribal land at Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore, California.
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“I’m scared, that’s normal. Everyone’s scared,” Souza told MMAFighting on Wednesday. “We try to keep everyone protected but I keep thinking about one thing: if I can’t pay my house’s mortgage, if I can’t pay my bills, I’m going to lose my house. If I go out to the streets, that’s when it gets complicated, that’s when they really won’t be protected. I have to take care of my family one way or the other, and I believe … I know the UFC will keep me protected.”
Souza (26-8, 1 NC), a 40-year-old father of three sons, will leave his wife and children behind when he looks to snap a two-fight losing skid.
“[UFC] will take care of everybody,” Souza said. “I can stay home, walk across the street and my neighbor infects me with the coronavirus. This virus is highly contagious. I can stay home and catch it. But I’m going to work. I hope God blesses Dana White and the UFC so they really can make it happen and I can take care of my family with safety.”
White has yet to confirm the fight’s location and has purposely kept particular details from the media due to his fears that certain individuals will conspire to force a cancellation. The card will legally proceed despite the California State Athletic Commission’s ruling that all combat sports events be postponed through the end of May because tribal land is self-regulated and not subject to state rules.
In addition, the Association of Ringside Physicians publicly shared their advisement that the fight card not take place. The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports went as far as saying it would rule UFC 249 an unsanctioned event should it take place.
“I’ll tell you this, in my years of fighting in the UFC, I’ve been through so many stressing situations that you have no idea. So, to me, this is nothing,” Souza said. “This is nothing to me. It’s just another fight I’ll do. I believe they will make the event happen. If they just wanna tell me the location on fight day, it’s fine by me. I’ll be there, I’ll fight, and I’ll win.
“You see who’s who during tough times, right? As amazing as it sounds, I haven’t seen myself this focused in many years. I believe it’s gonna be a very different fight. You’ll see a very focused athlete going for the win. I’m going there to impose my game and win. You’ll see a very different athlete.”