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Saturday, 07/14/2012, 11:25 am

EXCLUSIVE | Mike Swick talks tonight's Strikeforce main event Rockhold vs. Kennedy

Mike Swick has watched Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold push himself harder than ever before in his preparation to fight Tim Kennedy.

“I’ve never seen Luke Rockhold like he is right now. He is super motivated and in phenomenal shape. He’s in the best shape he has ever been in. He’s done everything he could possibly do and now it’s time to fight. He’s going to show up and do what he’s been training to do. It’s going to be a good night”.

Tim Kennedy is one of the friendliest and certainly one of the funniest guys in MMA. Mike does not believe this will have any effect on Luke, and shared his personal experiences.

“I feel like I am the type of fighter that can switch it on and off. I feel like I am pretty nice to people and my opponents. When it comes time to fight you have to go out there and do just that. The other guy is trying to make a career off you. He’s trying to knock you out, choke you out, and beat you down. You have to be cordial to people, but you also have to turn it on when you fight. I get out there and it’s me and him. There is no friendship about it. Luke is the same way”.

Rockhold’s camp has by most accounts been memorably intense. Everything from cardio, training partners, and training methods have been stepped up. Mike weighed in on the differences between Luke and Tim’s camps.

“I honestly like Tim Kennedy and the fact that he was in the military makes me have even more respect for him. I know he’s a hard worker and he’s part of Special Forces. I would be extremely shocked if he trained even close to as hard as Luke did. I can’t even imagine it. First of all he would look completely different and he would be shredded to the core. To do what Luke has done and how much he has trained for this fight, I mean you can’t come out of there not just shredded. I can’t imagine he has trained as hard as Luke has”.

Swick elaborated on Rockhold’s training.

“The camp has been balanced between striking and grappling. Especially when he trains as hard as he has. We train specifically for opponents in the way that we make adjustments. We still spar a set amount of rounds per day, cardio circuits, and a good mix of jiu jitsu and striking. I would say it’s a very even balance. I think he’s working in every way”.

Rockhold has been on the cusp of finally getting the credit he deserves for a while. Listed in many top 10 lists there are still some that shun his accomplishments. Mike thinks a win in this fight will silence the critics.

“I think this fight should put him firmly in the top 10. It all depends on his performance, too. If he goes out there and does what he has been training to do then it will have a significant effect on his standing. The fact that he’s beating Tim Kennedy counts. It’s the way you fight and the performances you put on ultimately”.

This is a very interesting fight to Mike. It is also one that could have two very different outcomes depending on the opening minutes.

“It’s hard to say what will happen. It depends on how aggressive they start out. I don’t know Tim’s gameplan. He might come out and try and take it straight to the ground and grind it out. Luke will have to rely on his cardio then and then just outlast Tim. I can’t see Tim coming out and trying to strike with Luke. It could end a lot sooner if he does that. Tim’s probably going to grind it and Luke is going to have to outwork him”.

Follow Mike Swick on Twitter: @officialswick

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