Tonight on UFC on Fox 15, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold (13-2) will be opposite former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida (22-5). His former sparring partners weighed in about what Rockhold will bring to the table tonight.
Former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, Pride Middle and Light Heavyweight Champion and UFC 17 Middleweight Tournament Champion Dan Henderson spoke first:
“Obviously I’m pulling for Luke to get out there and beat him up,” said Henderson to Rick J. Lee for MMAjunkie. “But, you know, Machida is a tough guy to get ahold of; he’s a tough guy to punch because he runs around so much. He moves, he’s quick. Luke is long, which should help him out a lot. I think if he can cut him off and get in his face – I think Luke can touch him because he’s so long. Luke is fairly quick himself, as well. If Luke can get ahold of him, that’s the best scenario. But I think even out in the open Luke will be able to touch him quite a bit as well and hopefully create a situation where Machida feels the need to come after him and fight. I think that’s where Luke will win that fight.
“Machida is hard to finish, obviously. And he’s hard to get ahold of. I think Luke will probably win by decision or even finish him. Luke has got some pretty good chokes.”
Current UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez then gave his thoughts:
“It’s as if he’s completely made of fast-twitch muscle fibers,” said Velasquez. “You throw at him, and suddenly he’s not there. You can get frustrated against him, and start reaching. But lunge all the way forward at him and then you can’t defend whatever he counters with against you. Some people will try to catch him and end up getting caught instead.”
“And while he’s the hardest guy to hit in this gym, he’s also one of the hardest hitting guys.”
Rockhold then talked a little strategy he has in store for tonight.
“You have to cut him off, trap him in the wrong place, and make him fight you,” said Rockhold. “You almost have to brawl with him. If I can corner him, make him wrestle with me, that’s my chance to use power against him. But you have to do everything against him because he’s so good. I know that I’m going to have to use every element of fighting at my disposal.”
“If I win this, there’s nothing left for me but to fight for the title. There’s a reason why we’re headlining this event. I know what I’m in for with this fight. But I’m ready to handle my business and get my world title shot.”