Although the matchup has been confirmed by Dana White, a date and a venue is still lacking for the upcoming middleweight title tilt between current champion Chris Weidman, and surging contender Luke Rockhold.
Rockhold has looked super impressive as of late, winning four-straight fights all by way of finish, but he has now been out of action since April when he scored a dominant win over former champion Lyoto Machida. The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product claims that he’s been trying to stay active, and learn as much as he can from different trainers during his time off:
“I’m trying to stay active. I’ve been around a lot and I’ve done a lot of promotional work and made appearances; just trying to make money with all this time I have off,” Rockhold told MMAmania.com. “When I’m on the road in Florida, I’m trying to get what I can from different trainers and better myself in any way. I’m home right now. I’ve been training all week.”
As for the champion, he has had some time off as well, last competing at UFC 187 in May, starching controversial Brazilian Vitor Belfort with a first round knockout. It seems as if both Weidman and Rockhold should be ready to tangle soon, and the challenger admits that he’s getting a bit restless.
There were even rumors that Rockhold was actually fighting fellow top contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who also arguably deserves a title shot, but that proved to be untrue. Rockhold and “Jacare” have already squared off once a few years back in Strikeforce, with Rockhold taking the victory.
One thing “Rocky” noted was Weidman’s injury history, stating that if the champ suffers yet another injury, he would be willing to take on Souza again:
“I do expect to fight by the end of the year. I think that New Year’s card would potentially be the latest,” said Rockhold. “I’m getting a bit restless. If Weidman were to get injured in the middle of a training camp – depending on the injury – of course. I’m not here to sit around all year and waste the time of my life. I’d be happy to go in and spank on ‘Jacare’ Souza.”
Weidman was actually forced to pull out of his title bout with Belfort twice due to injuries, and Rockhold believes that the champion just doesn’t want to fight all the time, and to be realistic, it has seemed like Weidman’s injuries have held up the division.
Rockhold understands that Weidman has a family, but he also says that the Serra-Longo product spends too much time outside of the Octagon:
“I don’t necessarily sympathize with him, but I guess I could understand to a certain extent,” Rockhold said. “It’s beyond that. Weidman doesn’t want to fight all the time. He does get injured from time to time and he has a family. I understand that, but I want to turn this title over and I think he enjoys his off-time a little too much. He has a little too much outside the cage to keep him in a constant fight program.”
The challenger doesn’t plan to hold up the division after he wins the belt, which he is confident he will do. Rockhold also stated that Weidman’s got too cocky, and he hopes to humble the undefeated champion:
“I’m going to rectify that situation for the middleweights out there and when I get the title from Weidman, I’m going to keep fighting, and that’s why I’ve kept my life single,” said Rockhold. “It might put some fire under his ass. He’s been on top for so long and he’s undefeated. A little cockier side is coming out of him and I’m going to bring him back down to earth.”
Despite being undefeated and very successful in his young career, Rockhold actually believes that Weidman has a lot of holes in his game, also noting that the champion doesn’t fight with much coordination, but rather uses his toughness to scathe by:
“It’s very apparent that he has a lot of holes in his game and he’s still a growing fighter. I see it and I’m going to expose it. That’s exactly what it is. Anybody that knows MMA can see that he’s definitely green in a lot of areas,” Rockhold said. “He doesn’t seem the most coordinated, athletic fighter. He doesn’t have a lot of finesse and I think he gets by on his toughness and wrestling.”
Weidman has earned a slight nick name as the Brazilian killer due to the fact that since securing the belt, he has taken out three Brazilian veterans, but Rockhold is not impressed, and claims that he will come at Weidman full force, and make a statement:
“He’s fought a bunch of old Brazilians that have been scared of that and there’s a new wave of guys coming up that he’s about to encounter. I’m coming at him full steam,” Rockhold said. “I’m going to work on my wrestling defense more, but that’s about it. If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. It’s not just about beating my opponent, it’s about going out there and making a statement and trying to reach my potential.”
As two of the most well-rounded fighters in not only the division, but possibly the sport, this has all the makings of a fantastic title fight. Who will walk away with gold whenever these two meet, Weidman or Rockhold?