Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold has an opportunity to make a big splash in his UFC debut this weekend. Should he defeat longtime contender Vitor Belfort, he’s going to be on a short list of actual contenders for the 185 lb. belt. And while many are giving the edge to Belfort in this pivotal tilt, Rockhold continues to express that the advantages are his, speaking up to MMA Junkie Radio:
"[Belfort] is using more kicks, but being a southpaw vs. southpaw, it's going to nullify a lot of the kicks for him. If it goes to the ground, I think it's my world. I know he's a longtime black belt, but black belts don't mean s--t to me."
Quite the strong statement from the young AKA product, who does have some BJJ championship titles under his belt. But Belfort nearly ripped Jon Jones’ arm off at UFC 152, so it’s highly debatable as to who has the better ground game of the two. Rockhold knows the many strengths of Belfort, and will look to utilize his in order to nullify ‘The Phenom’:
"I definitely want to keep it exciting and high-paced and keep a lot of pressure on Vitor. I feel like I can beat him anywhere, and I have to employ my range and my kickboxing. I'm not going to just straight box with Vitor. That would be stupid."
"It's really going to refine my skills and perfect my striking and make me be very precise. I expect a different fight for me."
Rockhold makes a good point here, in that he most likely won’t have much of a chance should he engage in a slugfest with the well-known power of Belfort. He does, however, maintain an advantage in the reach department, something that will come into play heavily as he tries to keep his opponent’s power at bay.
It appears that Luke Rockhold has done his research and has a good gameplan in place. But all that could go out the window when you step into the Octagon with a bomb-dropper like Belfort. Rockhold has utmost confidence in his abilities. Do you?