Can you name the Strikeforce middleweight champion? If so, congratulations. I guarantee you the casual MMA fan has never heard the name Luke Rockhold. Rockhold took to the MMA scene in 2007 when a few of his friends convinced him to come down and train with them at American Kickboxing Academy in California. He impressed the coaches during his first sparring session and has been a part of the team since.
His first two fights were for a small promotion in California called Melee on the Mountain. He went 1-1 with that organization when being called upon by Strikeforce. Since joining the Strikeforce organization he has gone 7-0 with notable wins over Jesse Taylor, Paul Bradley and most recently Ronzaldo “Jacare” Souza for the Strikeforce middleweight championship.
Rockhold was originally slated to face former title contender Tim Kennedy, but Kennedy had to pull out due to injury. On short notice Strikeforce place Keith Jardine in the fight against Rockhold for the middleweight strap on Saturday Jan. 7 at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. This must have been a tough change going from the traditional Kennedy to the highly unorthodox Jardine.
My training has changed but not too much just more influence on my offensive wrestling. Never know what to expect from a guy like Jardine so I want to be able to control where the fight takes place and wear him out, do to his suspect cardio.
This will be Jardine’s second fight with Strikeforce, in his first he fought to a draw against former light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi. Some critics questioned the organization for placing him against Rockhold for the middleweight title. What does Rockhold think of this?
No, I don’t think he deserves a title shot! It was a replacement fight on short notice, so it is what it is. I’m happy to face him and excited about the challenge! I was supposed to fight Tim Kennedy but he pulled out do to injury! He is the fight that makes sense and I want fights that make sense in the future!
If you look at Rockhold’s record you would be shocked to see how many finishes he has. Of his 8 wins he has 7 finishes, with 6 of those coming by way of submission. He holds a brown belt under Dave Camarillo at AKA and feels that jiu jitsu is a huge part of his game, but his striking is definitely elusive as well.
Jiu Jitsu will always be a big part of my game plan. I believe I am one of the elite grapplers in my division and will have a big advantage in this fight. I also believe I’m the better striker. Going to take the fight as it comes, planning on putting him to sleep one way or another!
Strikeforce is now here to stay, other than the heavyweight division that is. Many people in the media are already projecting that Zuffa will send some of their UFC fighters over to Strikeforce if they just don’t stack up in their respective division anymore. I personally would like to see them throw together some dream match-ups between organizations. What would Rockhold like to see happen?
I hope they mix things up, weather they bring fighters over from organization to organization or co-promote events. We have some of the best fighters in the world in Strikeforce and fans need to see who the true champions are!
One of Rockhold’s training partners and friends, Jon Fitch fought this past weekend at UFC 141. He was surprisingly upset by Johny Hendricks in the first round. The folks over at MMAFighting.com put together a Fighter vs. Writer feature and Rockhold did not hold together so well, going 2 for 5.
Yes, it wasn’t my best outing but at least the I got the big one right! I wanted to pick Diaz and saw his boxing and reach advantage as a major factor in the fight! Somehow I got persuaded by the media in favoring Cerrone, whoops! Fitch’s loss was so fast it’s hard to take anything from it. His stance was really low which I though was awkward, something I wasn’t used to seeing him do. He’ll be back on top before you know it, Fitch is one of the very best in the world!
If you are one of those folks who didn’t know who Rockhold was, i can tell you after this Saturday’s fight against Jardine you will remember the name ‘Luke Rockhold’.
Follow Luke on twitter @rockholdmma
Get more great MMA news and analysis over at MMA Sucka.