Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman are running it back again.
The tides changed for the UFC 185-pound division back in 2015 when Rockhold upset “The All American” in Las Vegas. Rockhold defeated Weidman via fourth-round TKO to become the new middleweight champion.
Weidman suffered the first loss of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career and had his dominant reign as champion brought to a screeching halt in the process. Both Weidman and Rockhold have seen tough times since their last meeting.
“The All American” lost back-to-back fights after his defeat to Rockhold, against Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi. He finally picked up a win in June of last year when he submitted Kelvin Gastelum.
As for Rockhold, he failed in his first career title defense when he was knocked out by Michael Bisping. After picking up a much needed win against David Branch last September, Rockhold found himself back in the title picture.
He took on Yoel Romero in February for the interim 185-pound championship. Rockhold was knocked out by the Cuban in the third round. Now he and Weidman will collide to determine who will remain at the top of the middleweight food-chain.
Rockhold’s coach, Javier Mendez, spoke to BJPenn.com Radio recently. Mendez discussed Rockhold and Weidman’s upcoming rematch at UFC 230 from Madison Square Garden in November.
Mendez said that both men are great fighters, and it might come down to who “screws up” first. In that regard, he believes Weidman is more likely to do so first (quotes via MMA Mania):
“He’s going to come out a better version of himself,” Mendez said. “And Luke is reinventing himself all the time. And he has a lot more confidence going into this.
“We’ll see what happens, but to me it’s always one of those situations where whoever screws up first. They’re both such great fighters. We have less to be concerned as far as screwing up.
“So on that edge, I give it to us. So am I favoring Luke? Absolutely. What will happen? Who knows? But I favor Luke 100 percent.”
That may very well be a subtle dig at Weidman for the way he and Rockhold’s last fight played out. When the pair initially met inside the cage at UFC 194 in December of 2015, the fight was going on pretty much even.
At one point Weidman “screwed up” and threw a wheel kick, likely trying to toy with Rockhold since that very kick knocked him out against Vitor Belfort in 2013. Instead, the kick led to Weidman being taken down and subsequently finished.