Luke Rockhold has the biggest fight of his career ahead of him at UFC 194 in Las Vegas this December, challenging Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship. The former Strikeforce Champion has come on strong after the setback against Vitor Belfort in his UFC debut, and earned this shot with an absolutely destructive victory over former champ Lyoto Machida in his last outing.
Entering the Dec. 12 title matchup, it’s seen by most as an extremely even and competitive matchup, with two of the division’s best fighters coming in perhaps at their peak. Rockhold doesn’t see things that way, and thinks he’s going to prove himself the superior fighter without question.
“I think he’s a very tough guy. I think he’s gotten into this division at the right time. But it’s a new age and there’s a new crop of guys coming up that are on a different level than anyone he’s ever faced, and I’m leading the way,” Rockhold said in an interview with Submission Radio. “He’s in trouble.
“People wanna say this is a close fight. I don’t see it as [a close fight] though. I think Chris is gonna be tough for a round, maybe two. I’m gonna run away with this fight and I’m gonna take the belt home. Another belt coming back to AKA. Chris is just too slow, he’s too slow, he’s too slow. That’s all I gotta say. He’s slow, slow, and he’s slow.”
Rockhold expects Weidman to rely on his wrestling to try overpowering him and controlling the pace of the fight. However, Rockhold expects he’s going to expose the current champ and finish this one in decisive fashion.
“I’m gonna shut down his wrestling, I’m gonna open up every other hole in his game,” Rockhold said. “I think he’s slow and he’s got he’s gotten by on his toughness and his wrestling. I’m gonna be faster, I’m gonna hit him harder, and I’m gonna challenge him in ways he hasn’t [been challenged before]. I’m gonna put on a pace that he hasn’t felt before, and I’m not running from the man. Trust me. I’m gonna be hunting this guy down like I hunt every fighter down. You know, I hunt ’em and then I bait them in. I hunt them and I bait them in. This is going to be no different, come 12th of December…
“I’m going to shut Chris Weidman down in the first round. I’m gonna expose him in the second round. And I’m gonna finish him with a left kick, followed by a left punch, simultaneously.”
Penick’s Analysis: I love everything about this fight. They’ve got two of the most entertaining styles to watch in the cage, they’re both immensely talented on the feet and even more so on the ground, they’ve got incredible finishing ability, and they’re both so supremely confident in their own skills that neither can envision the loss here. Now, we’ve seen Rockhold get beat, we haven’t seen that happen for Weidman. Still, Rockhold’s loss to Belfort seems like a bit of an anomaly, and I don’t think we’d see the same result if they fought again soon. This is going to be a fantastic title fight, and Dec. 12’s UFC 194 card can’t come soon enough.
[Photo (c) Joe Camporeale via USA Today Sports]