Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will defend his title against Tim Kennedy in a July 14 headliner at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker revealed the booking during Thursday’s media conference call. Coker also announced two additional middleweight confrontations for the event, as Keith Jardine meets Roger Gracie and Robbie Lawler faces Lorenz Larkin.
The event marks Strikeforce’s second trip to The Rose City, as the promotion first visited Portland in 2010 for Challengers 8. That show saw Oregon native and UFC veteran Matt Lindland outpoint Kevin Casey in the main event on Showtime. The Rose Garden is the home to the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and routinely seats nearly 20,000 spectators during games.
Rockhold, 27, has been beaten just once as a pro and rides an eight-fight winning streak into the second defense of his Strikeforce title. The American Kickboxing Academy standout captured the championship from Ronaldo Souza in a hard-fought unanimous decision last September and successfully defended the strap against Jardine on Jan. 7, earning a first-round knockout over “The Dean of Mean.”
Kennedy will enter the cage five years older than the champion. A winner in six of his last seven outings, Kennedy previously challenged Souza for the strap in 2010 only to come up short on the judges’ scorecards after 25 minutes of combat. The decorated U.S. Army veteran responded by posting a pair of victories last year, submitting the hard-hitting Melvin Manhoef in March before outpointing Lawler on July 30.