For Luke Rockhold, practice at American Kickboxing Academy means a steady diet of Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, two of the top wrestlers in mixed martial arts today.
The way Rockhold sees it, if he can hold his own against those two, one a former UFC heavyweight ruler and the other the current light heavyweight champ, then he will be more than prepared for anything Chris Weidman brings to the table at UFC 194.
“I’ve been sparring Cain and Cormier my whole career, basically. I’m very used to much bigger, better wrestlers...I’m used to the pressure,” Rockhold said during a conference call. “Weidman’s got to think twice if he thinks his wrestling is going to dictate where the fight takes place because I deal with that s--t every day.”
Weidman, the reigning middleweight king, was a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Hofstra University. More importantly, he has tailored that pedigree nicely to fit into a well-rounded mixed martial arts skill set. Since snatching 185-pound gold with his upset of Anderson Silva at UFC 162, the Serra-Longo Fight Team member has vanquished Silva (again), Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort during his championship tenure.
“ I’m not really concerned about prior resume. I know exactly who he’s fought,” Rockhold said. “We’ve fought the same guys. I know how he fought them, and I know how I fought them. I’ve fought some very tough guys in my time.”
As far as common opponents, both Rockhold and Weidman have experience against Belfort and Machida. Rockhold was floored by a Belfort spinning heel kick and then finished during the height of the Brazilian’s TRT days, while Weidman dispatched a less imposing “Phenom” inside of a round. Meanwhile, Weidman needed five rounds to defeat Machida, but Rockhold overwhelmed the former light heavyweight king like few have, submitting “The Dragon” with a rear-naked choke in round two.
For the most part, Weidman has been dominant during his rise to prominence in the UFC. Rockhold plans on making that change on Dec. 12.
“Chris is about to find out. He’s got a lot of holes in his game, and he hasn’t fought anybody who’s been able to exploit them until now,” Rockhold said. “I’m not gonna sit there and cower down and let him control the ring. I’m gonna stop him in the middle of the cage coming out, and then I’ll finish it.”
Rockhold believes that Weidman will struggle when he faces adversity in the Octagon because his game plan isn’t tailored to handle the various circumstances that could arise in a fight.
“Adjustment is everything. It’s what fighting is all about. It’s about who can make those switches. Things don’t always work out the way you see them sometimes, but most fights they do for me,” he said. “I’ve seen this fight play out many times over the years. I really didn’t have to do too much homework. I adjust well. I stay relaxed. I stay focused and we’ve all seen Chris. He gets frustrated when you hit him. When things don’t go his way he sacks up; he fights with his balls. Good for him. It’s gotten him by to a certain point, but it’s about to get him in big trouble.”