Luke Rockhold has earned a reputation as a quick finisher. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Luke Rockhold follows a clear and concise mode of operation.
The former Strikeforce champion will lock horns with Tim Boetsch in a featured middleweight scrap at UFC 172 “Jones vs. Teixeira” on Saturday at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore. Believed by many to be on the fast track to title contention in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 185-pound weight class, Rockhold has recorded nine wins in his past 10 bouts, eight of them first-round finishes.
“I prepare for a war, but I plan on just destroying whoever’s in front of me,” he said during the “Countdown to UFC 172” show.
Rockhold last appeared at UFC Fight Night 35 in January, when he rebounded from a knockout loss to Vitor Belfort and dispatched Costas Philippou with a vicious first-round liver kick at Philips Arena in Duluth, Ga. The 29-year-old American Kickboxing Academy export already owns wins over Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo Souza, but the significance of his first victory inside the Octagon was not lost on him.
“It almost doesn’t matter what you did outside the sport,” Rockhold said. “You have to do it in the UFC. There’s nothing like finishing a fight in the first round. Get it done, get it done early, get it done quick. I mean, who wants to work a full day when you can work half a day?”
Boetsch is no walk in the park, but he has lost twice in his past three outings. He last competed at UFC 166 in October, when he settled for a controversial split decision over C.B. Dollaway at the Toyota Center in Houston. Boetsch, 33, trains under Matt Hume at the same AMC Pankration camp as UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. “The Barbarian” has compiled an 8-5 record in the UFC, his resume highlighted by wins over the world-ranked Yushin Okami, American Top Team’s Hector Lombard and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Kendall Grove.
“He hasn’t fought anybody like me, and he’s going to realize that once we step in the cage,” Rockhold said. “This fight could potentially be worse for Boetsch than it was for Philippou. That’s how I always plan it in my head.”
Anthony Johnson spent the better part of five years plying his trade in the UFC’s cutthroat 170-pound weight class. He was spectacular at times, subpar at others. Talent was never in question, but with the man they call “Rumble,” there always seemed to be an underlying theme: Could he make the weight?
Johnson -- who has come in overweight on multiple occasions during his career -- will return to the Octagon as a light heavyweight when he confronts Alliance MMA’s Phil Davis in the UFC 172 co-main event. Still only 30, the Blackzilians representative has rattled off six consecutive victories since being jettisoned by the UFC following a January 2012 defeat to Belfort. Johnson authored three of those wins inside the World Series of Fighting promotion, including a unanimous decision over former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.
In the once-beaten Davis, Johnson meets a four-time NCAA All-American wrestler and 2008 national champion on the rise. “Mr. Wonderful” last appeared at UFC 163 in August, when he took a contentious unanimous decision over Lyoto Machida at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Phil is a really good athlete,” Johnson said in his pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “He’s powerful and comes from a really good camp.”
THIS & THAT
The Baltimore Arena opened on Oct. 23, 1962 at a cost of $14 million and played host to The Beatles a little less than two years later ... When Glover Teixeira climbs into the cage to challenge Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight championship, 3,318 days will have passed since his most recent defeat -- a unanimous decision loss to Ed Herman under the SportFight banner in March 2005 ... Hawaiian lightweight Yancy Medeiros once competed at 205 pounds ... When Max Holloway was born on Dec. 4, 1991, the top five movies at the domestic box office were “The Addams Family,” “My Girl,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Cape Fear” and “For the Boys” ... Team Alpha Male’s Joseph Benavidez owns a 19-1 record in non-title bouts ... Takanori Gomi is one of 11 men to have held the Shooto lightweight championship, along with Kuniyoshi Hironaka, Willamy Freire, Takashi Nakakura, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Vitor Ribeiro, Joachim Hansen, Caol Uno, Yuki Nakai, Tomonori Ohara and Yuichi Watanabe ... Bethe Correia will enter the cage at a perfect 7-0, but the seven women she has defeated own a combined 30-26 record ... Joe Ellenberger, the twin brother of world-ranked welterweight Jake Ellenberger, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Distribution and a Master’s degree in Sports Administration from the University of Nebraska at Kearney ... Patrick Williams, 32, has never fought outside the state of Florida ... World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Danny Castillio was a two-time NAIA All-American wrestler at Menlo College in California.