Luke Rockhold dismantled Lyoto Machida. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
My first thought after watching Luke Rockhold pour out a 55-gallon drum of whoop ass on Lyoto Machida in the UFC on Fox 15 main event: “Nobody makes that guy look ordinary.” Well, that was exactly what the Santa Cruz, Calif., native did to one of the better fighters of his generation on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Is it bad that my second thought was to put Rockhold in a bubble to make sure he is healthy enough to take on UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman later this year?
In all seriousness, though, the American Kickboxing Academy product’s performance was so, so good. He completely dismantled a well-established veteran who has been in the cage with some of the best fighters, both as a middleweight and as a light heavyweight. The only guy who has really made him look bad was Jon Jones at 205 pounds, and Rockhold tuned up “The Dragon” even faster than the man many, including myself, believe is the best fighter in the world.
Now I know MMA math does not mean jack when it comes to prognosticating fights, but it is an interesting comparison to view the absolute destruction Rockhold doled out to Machida with the 25-minute war of attrition that saw Weidman score a comfortable decision over the former light heavyweight champion.
I cannot wait to see these guys get into the Octagon with one another; it would be a fitting entry into the New York market, should the Ultimate Fighting Championship sort out that mess before the end of the year.
ALLIGATOR ROLLS: Seriously, who did not see this one coming?
You have to give Chris Camozzi credit for stepping up to face Ronaldo Souza in the co-main event on late notice, as the list of people willing to fight “Jacare” under such circumstances is short. This was not a competitive fight, not that anyone expected it to be.
The only thing that resulted from Yoel Romero pulling out due to injury was the path to a title shot was cleared for Rockhold. That is tough luck for “Jacare,” but hopefully he can get another fight that will set him up for the winner of Weidman-Rockhold; and for those of you saying I am completely writing off Vitor Belfort’s chances against the champion at UFC 187, yes, you are absolutely correct. I am indeed doing that.
HAWAIIAN PUNCH: Max Holloway has been on quite a roll since his decision loss to Conor McGregor nearly two years ago. The impressive Hawaiian has rattled off six victories in a row, including his latest win over Cub Swanson.
It is not just the winning streak that is impressive; it is the manner in which he has built it. After scoring just two stoppage wins in his first 10 fights, Holloway has clocked out early in five of the six fights during his current run. Only cagey veteran Cole Miller has gone the distance with the surging featherweight.
Holloway’s performance against Swanson goes in the books as his most remarkable to date. After slowly breaking down his opponent with stinging counterstrikes over the first 10 minutes, Holloway turned up the heat in the third round and dropped Swanson with a vicious kick to the body. He followed up by securing a mounted guillotine that ended the affair with a little more than a minute left on the clock. The 145-pound division is chock full of talent, and Holloway is one of the guys knocking on the door to title contention. He also made some noise about getting a rematch with McGregor, who took a unanimous decision in their 2013 matchup despite tearing his ACL.
Holloway’s best hope to secure that rematch may be found in McGregor unseating Jose Aldo atop the division when they meet at UFC 189 in July. With another win or two, Holloway could be in line to take his crack, not only at redemption but at UFC gold.
SHOTGUN BLAST: I am sure Paige VanZant is tired of hearing about Reebok deals and her looks being the main catalysts behind her burgeoning MMA career. It totally seemed that way in Newark.
The young women’s strawweight put the stamp on her primary antagonist, Felice Herrig, and in doing so established herself as a force to be reckoned with at 115 pounds. After a close first round, VanZant handled Herrig, battering her at every turn over the final 10 minutes en route to a one-sided decision.
While VanZant continues to see her stock rise, I am sure it will be a bitter plate of crow for Herrig to choke down. In the run up to this fight, she seemed to dismiss VanZant and it may have cost her come fight night: She really was not competitive after the opening frame.
NOTES FROM THE UNDERCARD: Beneil Dariush put on a clinic in defeating perennial lightweight contender Jim Miller. The Kings MMA-trained fighter exasperated Miller with his swarming ground game and kept him on the defensive for most of the match. It was a big step up for Dariush, who was coming off a win over another solid UFC veteran in Daron Cruickshank just 35 days before ... Aljamain Sterling was also on point in his bantamweight showdown with Takaya Mizugaki. The undefeated Sterling did nothing to tarnish his star, as he handled his Japanese opponent from the opening bell until he squeezed out the submission victory midway through the final period. With the step up in competition that is sure to come and a few more wins, Sterling could soon find himself in the title picture at 135 pounds.
Greg Savage is the executive editor of Sherdog.com and can be reached via email or on Twitter @TheSavageTruth.