Luke Rockhold has grand visions of recapturing the middleweight gold he once wore.
It’s been five years since Luke Rockhold has been the UFC undisputed middleweight champion. In the present day, he has lost three of his last four fights, with every defeat coming by way of knockout. On paper, someone with such a reputation of being “chinny” is a horrid stylistic matchup for one of the best strikers in the sport, reigning champion Israel Adesanya.
Luke Rockhold doesn’t see things that way, however. Not only does he consider Adesanya quite beatable, but he thinks he is precisely the guy to beat him if ever granted the opportunity (transcription via Farah Hannoun).
“I know what Israel’s capable of. I’ve been studying Israel for a long time,” Rockhold said to ESPN. “I appreciate his style, but I think he’s beatable in so many ways. I don’t think many guys can fight him from the outside like I can. If I just stay relaxed and stay on the outside, it’s a game that I can play and then if we go into the takedowns, I’ll do it a lot better than Jan did. I’ll tell you that.”
Rockhold is echoing what a growing number of fighters are saying in their scouting report of Adesanya post-UFC 259, which is that his ground game leaves a gaping hole for a skilled grappler to exploit. Adesanya predicted this wave would come after the loss to Blachowicz at light heavyweight, and he seemed to welcome the doubters as his middleweight championship reign continues.
Luke Rockhold knows a thing or two about doubters as well. Seemingly anticipating to be confronted by many of these doubters after making these comments, Rockhold would move to address this population.
“I’ve always had doubt, I’ve always had haters, but they just get more and more,” Rockhold said. “The sport’s gotten more and more popular in recent memory and they’re due to their own opinion I guess. They’re entitled to their opinion, but it’s my job to re-write that opinion and show them who the f*ck I am so I’m working, and I’m coming back because I know what I’m capable of. I just got to focus and be the guy that I know I am. Relax and let it be and people will bite their lip very quickly.
“The division is ripe for the taking and Israel is what motivates me right now and everybody else is in the way.”
How do you think Luke Rockhold would fare against Israel Adesanya?