Luke Rockhold challenges Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight championship on Saturday night.
The champion says he’s faced better in every component of mixed-martial arts. The challenger says the champion shows “a lot of holes in his game.”
“In my head, I’m preparing for my most difficult defense,” Weidman explained on the UFC 194 conference call. “With all due respect to Luke, if you put on paper Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida versus Luke just in the striking department, you would probably say Silva and Machida have better striking.” He notes that Demian Maia betters Rockhold in jiu jitsu and that other opponents, Mark Munoz comes to mind, offered superior wrestling. He concedes that Rockhold brings a more well-rounded overall game than past opponents. But the champion divulges, “I don’t know if he’s the toughest challenge I’ve ever had.”
Rockhold says that working with light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier on a daily basis makes Weidman’s wrestling unintimidating. “I’m used to the pressure,” the former Strikeforce middleweight champion explained. “I feel Weidman’s gotta think twice if he thinks his wrestling is gonna dictate where this fight takes place. I deal with that $#!+ every day.”
On fight night, Rockhold’s past opposition lacked the wrestling pedigree the champion brings with him into the octagon. He boasts wins over Jacare Souza (Brazilian jiu jitsu), Michael Bisping (striking), and Lyoto Machida (karate). But none of these fighters rely on wrestling as his go-to discipline.
“Adjustment is everything,” Rockhold maintains. “Adjustment is what fighting’s all about.”
He believes an inability to bring Weidman down results in the Long Islander fighting foolishly. Like Rockhold, Weidman fights as a complete mixed-martial artist. He displayed knockout power against Silva and Munoz, why he wears a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt by choking out Tom Lawlor, and elite-level wrestling against all of his opponents. Partly as a result of the UFC’s new IV rehydration ban, Weidman came into camp near the 185 limit. Whether that diminishes his power or adds to his endurance remains for UFC 194 to show.
“He gets frustrated when you hit him,” Rockhold says of his opponent. “He sacks up. He fights with his balls.”
“He’s got his wrestling game plan,” the challenger notes. “He’s going to get hit, he’ll start to strike. He’ll go from [plan] A to B, you better have C, D, before he realizes he’s going to have an F, and he’s going to fail.”