A stunning spinning back kick from Vitor Belfort (23-10) handed Luke Rockhold (10-2) a loss in his UFC debut earlier this month. The former Strikeforce middleweight champion could be forgiven for taking some time to gather his thoughts after the first-round stoppage, but he’s already campaigning for his next fight. His target is UFC veteran Michael “The Count” Bisping (24-5), who’s coming off a convincing points victory over Alan Belcher at UFC 159. Bisping likes to refer to himself as the “unofficial Strikeforce champion,” claiming he dominated Rockhold in training. It’s a claim that led to Rockhold to call him out via Twitter.
UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (19-2) has earned three successful title defences since claiming the belt at UFC 144. But he’s also earned his fair share of critics. Some fans believe the judges got it wrong in two of those defences. While he was more than convincing against Nate Diaz, they argue he got lucky in his rematch against Frankie Edgar and split decision win over Gilbert Melendez. Critics of Henderson’s style point to his UFC record, which includes seven fights for seven decision victories. But ”Smooth” says it’s not his fault. Watch the full MMA Hour interview here.
“What’s going to happen, I think, sadly, is a lot of guys are going to do the Frankie Edgar game plan. We thought that Gilbert was going to be super-aggressive, like hyper-aggressive and just come out and go get me and be after me the entire time. But if you watch the fight, he was a lot more elusive. He was bouncing around, he kind of waited for his shots, waited, waited, waited, waited, waited, and then sprung forward and tried to land a couple of combos, a couple of shots. We think he had a lot more of a Frankie game plan. He never threw any leg kicks before, maybe three or four leg kicks in the entire three fights, four fights before we faced off. We think he got the leg kicks from Frankie. It didn’t really hurt or anything, but it scored him points. He knew he could land it because my right leg is so far forward. He knew he could land it and score points, the same way Frankie did, and then be elusive. So, we think a lot of our fights are sadly going to be that way … The closest fight was probably that (second) Frankie Edgar fight. Some guys are going to stick to that game plan, they’re going to try to do what he did; be elusive, be in-and-out, not give me a whole chance to come forward and get my hands on them. If I can go forward and get me hands on somebody, like Nate Diaz, I’ll do that all day long, trust me. I like putting on entertaining fights, I like beating the crap out of people, but if they’re not conducive to that, then you know, it is what it is. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to get the ‘W.’ If they don’t want to come forward and scrap, throw down the way Nate and I did, then what am I going to do? I’m not going to just charge forward and let someone punch me so I can get my hands on them. It’s stylistic match-ups. Somebody like Nate, who’s a fighter’s fighter, who walks forward and gets after it, him and I put on a heck of an entertaining show.”
Hey fight fans,
I’m going to be out of action for a few days. Need to catch up on some sleep in hospital and get my knee fixed. I’ll be back in time to review all the main card action from UFC 160.
Enjoy the fights!
The last middleweight champion of Strikeforce, Luke Rockhold (10-1), has a massive task ahead of him this weekend at UFC on FX 8. The 28-year-old UFC debutant will face MMA veteran Vitor Belfort (22-10) in his home country of Brazil. The Brazilian has looked like the Belfort of old in his last few outings, so much so that many fans have become cynical about his publicised use of testosterone replacement therapy. Rockhold hasn’t been shy in speaking out about the issue and once again seized the opportunity at the pre-fight press conference. He also spoke about his grappling skills and his brown belt level “legitsu.” Watch the conference highlights here.
“For me, fighting, I believe it’s more mental than it is physical and I know I’ve worked so hard to be here and put myself in this position. I haven’t supplemented, I haven’t taken anything in anyway and I know I’ve put in more work, I know I have a bigger heart, I know have the will that will push me through this fight. I believe people that need that extra push, the TRT, I think they’re lacking something and I believe that will show in this fight. That will be a big factor and I believe in myself, my heart, my will and my hard work … I’ve been in jiu-jitsu and grappling my whole life. I’m very aware of my body and how I move, and I’ve competed on a world level in jiu-jitsu and I’ve won. I may only be a brown belt, but I have two world championships at blue belt, one at purple belt and I actually turned down my black belt because I wanted to compete at brown belt and win a world championship and try to earn it a different way. Black belts are black belts, I’m very capable of beating anybody. I bring “legitsu” to the table.”
This time last year, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-4) was two weeks away from perhaps the worst beating of his MMA career. Challenging UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (11-1) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the Brazilian was taken down and bloodied up for three-and-a-half minutes before the referee called it off. Since then, Silva has bounced back to score impressive TKO victories over Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem. In two weeks, on May 25, he returns to the scene of his biggest defeat for another shot at Velasquez and his UFC gold. Listen to the full UFC 160 conference call here.
“I think the main thing is in our first fight I was nervous and I was anxious. I’ve replaced those emotions now. Now, I’m driven, I really want this. Comparing my style of fighting to Cain’s style of fighting, I would have to be born again to become faster than Cain Velasquez. I have 30 pounds on him. He’s going to be faster than me, so I need to work with what I have. I have to work with what I have, I have very heavy, heavy hands … I’m very confident that I’m going to win this belt, so I believe I’m going to be the one defending it … We learn a lot from our mistakes as people, especially our professional mistakes. For sure, I learned a lot from my last fight (with Velasquez), from how things were for me going into the fight, what I need to do different. So, this is a whole other ball game. I’m prepared and I’m ready to go … Obviously, in the first fight, I made a big mistake. But there were a lot of things I did right going into that fight that unfortunately you guys didn’t get to see, so, much of that has been maintained. Overall, the main strategy is just not to let his elbows get near my forehead.”
Chris Weidman (9-0) knows he’s up against something special in UFC pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva (33-4). The much-anticipated clash goes down at UFC 162 on July 6. While some fans argue Weidman’s mix of wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu is Silva’s kryptonite, others think the 28-year-old will be just another top contender caught in The Spider’s web. Weidman, a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler and ADCC competitor, has maintained an outspoken confidence rarely seen in Silva’s opponents. It’s hard to imagine someone defeating the Brazilian, simply because the last person to do it was Ryo Chonan via diving ninja sub almost 10 years ago. But Weidman told Yahoo! Sports he wasn’t fazed.
“You have to treat him like just another opponent. You respect what he’s done in this sport – of course you do – but you can’t get caught up in it. Guess what? He’s a person just like I am, he’s got two arms, two legs, two eyes, like I do. I’m not fighting a superhero, I’m fighting another person and it’s my job to defeat him. Simple as that … I can’t change anyone’s mind and that’s not my job, anyway. I feel like I have the right mix of skills, the desire, the determination, to get the job done. The UFC thinks enough of me to give me the title shot. To those who might think I don’t deserve this yet, all I can say is, tune in on July 6 and I’ll show you otherwise.”
Luke Rockhold (10-1), the final Strikeforce middleweight champion, makes his UFC debut against Vitor Belfort (22-10) next weekend at UFC on FX 8 in Brazil. The 28-year-old American Kickboxing Academy product could leap into UFC title contention with a win over the MMA veteran. At 36, Belfort has experienced somewhat of a renaissance since his devastating loss to Anderson Silva two years ago. He’s finished Yoshihiro Akiyama, Anthony Johnson and Michael Bisping and given UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones his toughest test yet. Rockhold is well aware of Belfort’s punching power, but given the fight is five rounds, he also has his eye on the Brazilian’s cardio. However the fight goes, the UFC debutant is openly gunning for a lucrative Fight of the Night bonus. Watch the full interview at Sherdog.
“Vitor, he’s dangerous whether he’s on TRT or not. He’s still got that power, he’s still got that explosiveness, he’s got a good round or two in him and beyond that, who knows where his head’s at. He says he’s got cardio, he says he’s got all that, but I think I can push five rounds like no one else and I’ll do that if need be. But I want to finish him earlier, I want to finish him while he’s hot and I want to make a statement in this fight. I feel capable of beating him everywhere … My style, I feel like I’m pretty well-rounded, I can fight in all areas. I’m going to come out hot, I always pressure, I don’t back down from a fight. I’m not going to be shy, so I’ll be in your face – sometimes I like to fight a little too much, you know, I like to give and take. This fight, I have to be a little bit smarter, I have to be on my game, I have to respect Vitor and his striking. But I come from a wrestling background and a lot of jiu-jitsu, so, you’re going to see me wrestling. I’ve got to get some blood in Vitor’s arms, slow him down a little bit and then maybe I’ll pick him apart on the feet from there or finish him earlier on that ground. I don’t really know, but this fight will be everywhere and it will be explosive. I don’t see how this could be boring, this is going to be a fun fight and I’m looking to get some bonus money out of it, too.”