Luke Rockhold’s path to the octagon was anything but easy and short. The California native started his professional mixed martial arts career in 2007 when he fought for the regional “Melee on the Mountain” promotion before graduating to Strikeforce in just two fights. He made his debut on the “Strikeforce: Young Guns II” card which was supposed to highlights the up-and-comers from around the world within the promotion.
Strikeforce gave Rockhold the platform to make a name for himself and he went on a vicious three fight win streak before becoming a regular on Strikeforce’s “Challenger” series, essentially their version of “Fight Night XX”. It wasn’t until September 2011 when Rockhold’s name became well known in the world of MMA when he defeated Ronaldo Souza by way of unanimous decision, becoming the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.
When Strikeforce went out of business and was bought out by the UFC, Rockhold was brought to the octagon to prove himself against veteran Vitor Belfort. Belfort was on the run of his career and executed a ridiculous spinning kick that would have sent any fighter to the canvas, handing Rockhold his first loss in six years.
Since then, Rockhold has gone on a four fight win streak and is preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime when he steps into the cage to face Chris Weidman at UFC 194. Las Vegas, Nevada will host the middleweight championship throwdown and Rockhold is proud of his roots.
“I fought ‘Jacare,’ and he was ranked No. 5, or No. 4 in the world, maybe even higher when I fought him. Instead of giving me credit because I was an un-named kid from Strikeforce Challengers, people didn’t believe,” Rockhold vented during a media luncheon.
“Tim Kennedy never got the respect he deserved and look at us now,” he continued. “Myself, Yoel Romero, Kennedy, and ‘Jacare,’ we are all the top guys in that division. There’s Weidman and the rest of us are all from Strikeforce. People are just close minded and they believe in the hype train that is UFC. You have to give UFC a lot of credit because they make people believe that it is the best. It is the best now. But, I’m just happy to finally be here and get the credit I deserve I guess.”
Would you have liked to have seen a UFC vs. Strikeforce card before the companies merged? Which matches would you have wanted to see? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Transcribed by MMA Junkie