Middleweight title contender Luke Rockhold was understandably angered by champion Chris Weidman’s recent comments about him, where the titleholder suggested he ‘knew what was coming’ and was already ‘insecure’ about their awaited co-main event matchup at UFC 194.
But if you listen to Rockhold, quite the opposite is actually the case. The Californian spoke up to FOX Sports to give his take on the champ’s recent success, honing in on the view that Weidman has mainly beat aging legends with little to nothing left in the tank.
Because of that, Rockhold believes the next wave of middleweight contenders including himself, ‘Jacare,’ and Yoel Romero, won’t have to fear Weidman’s takedowns, making them new and more dangerous threats to his title:
“Chris has accomplished a lot but he hasn’t been fighting elite grapplers. He’s been fighting strikers who are scared of his takedowns. I’m the first of a new crew of middleweights who won’t be scared to strike with him on the feet and who are not afraid of his takedowns. Guys like me, ‘Jacare’ and Romero are a different breed than everyone he’s fought.”
The former Strikeforce champ conceded that while Weidman may take him down a few times, he still envisions a standing win due to his belief that the ‘All-American’ is just too slow and awkward in that department:
“Maybe he’ll take me down once or twice, but he won’t keep me down or escape submissions. I’ll get up and get back in his face. I have thought about this fight for a long time and I really do believe I’m ending it on the feet against him. He’s too slow and awkward on the feet. He’s gotten by with toughness.”
With an impressive four-fight stoppage streak intact since dropping his octagon debut, Rockhold believes that most fans know him only from his rather quick and painless victories; but he assured them Weidman knows that if the fight turned into a bloodbath, Rockhold is happy to oblige:
“A lot of people may have just seen my UFC fights and so they’ve seen me win quick and clean. But Weidman has followed me for a long time. He has seen me in wars and he knows how I fight in a war.”
The surging challenger revealed he wants to find his range against the champ rather than rush into a quick fight that many may already be discounting him in. He reaffirmed that he’s ready for any fight, but is more prepared to get into a gritty war than the rest of the division:
“I’ll be ready if the fight is quick, but I don’t even much like to come out real fast. I like to get my range and feel out my opponent. Maybe people overlook me because of the way I talk or the way I look. I don’t know. But I’m grittier than any of these mother f**kers.
“I think Weidman brings out the best in me. I wouldn’t be surprised if this fight goes long and hard. I bet we go a couple rounds, first. He’s survived on his toughness and grit. But, he also fades late into the fight. I won’t. If it goes long and gets dirty, I’m dirtier than any of these motherf**kers.”