Exclusive | Rockhold on Kennedy, "I am going to look to expose him"
Despite being the current Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, Luke Rockhold still remains one of the most consistently underrated fighters. Rockhold displays well rounded skills in every fight, and performs at a level on par with the UFC’s top athletes. On July 14th of this year he defends his championship against Tim Kennedy in Portland Oregon.
“Training’s going really well”, Luke Stated. “It was a rough Friday last week. I just got through going a hard five rounds with all fresh guys. A few injuries here and there, but nothing serious. I’m pushing five rounds hard and I’m right on track. I feel better than I have ever felt”.
Tim Kennedy has been known to push the pace and keep the tempo higher than his opponents might like. Rockhold’s cardio has never come in to question, and he feels Tim’s shouldn’t either.
“I think his cardio is near the top. I think it’s hard to keep a pace like Tim keeps”, said Rockhold. “He’s only gone five rounds once and so have I. I don’t think he went as high of a pace as I went with Jacare, but I think he’s got great cardio. He looks good and I expect the best. I am seriously in the best shape of my life. I did see him getting a little tired with Robbie Lawler, and then I think he broke Robbie and that gave him more energy. I think he could potentially get tired. I’m going to push it and defend. I am not going to stop”.
Luke doesn’t try and hide the fact that he would rather stand and trade than go to the ground. While he has finished 4 of his opponents by submission, Rockhold feels his strength is in his power, but recognizes that Tim is a threat wherever the fight ends up.
“I think Tim’s standup is underrated”, stated Luke. “I think there are certain things he does very well. I think there are areas where he lacks too. Me being the taller fighter with more range I think I have more tools on the fight. I’m going to look to expose him”.
In a recent interview Tim Kennedy expressed his displeasure in the lack of media attention for his upcoming fight with Luke. (http://www.bjpenn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/11/video-tim-kennedy-mma-web-sites-ignore-luke-rockhold-and-me-mma-news-28787.html) Rockhold seems to echo Kennedy’s sentiments.
“Yeah I saw Tim’s statement”, Rockhold said. “I agree to a certain extent. I think we get some coverage on MMA websites. If anything the UG kind of shuts us off. We don’t get much love on the UG. We’re getting some publicity. We’re not getting the UFC publicity, but for a Strikeforce fight I think we’re doing all right. We’ll see in the coming weeks. The fight is getting closer and it is starting to pick up and that’s when it’s time to tell. We’ll see what kind of publicity and love we get here shortly”.
Much Like Josh Thomson was to Melendez, Kennedy is the same type of fighter to Rockhold. While neither Josh nor Tim sits in the top 10 many believe that they fight on that level. Rockhold feels Tim does not get all of the respect he deserves. A win over Kennedy could vault Rockhold in to even the most fickle top tens.
“I think Tim could easily be a top 10 guy”, Rockhold said. “I think if he brings the tools he has he can beat a lot of the guys in the top 10. Beating him I think that it can further cement me in those top tens I’m not in. I think I’m in most of them at this point, but not all. I still have a lot to prove. I think I’m constantly improving with each camp and each fight. I think I am going to solidify myself”.
Luke sits atop a division in an organization that has a clouded future. Rumors pop up daily in the mornings about the organization folding, and in the afternoon it appears to be thriving again. Another potential stumbling block for Strikeforce is the depth of its divisions. Luke shared his thoughts on Strikeforce.
“Strikeforce has always been good to me no doubt. It’s tough, It’s a tough question”, Luke stated. “I hear people like Scott Coker and the Showtime execs say it’s going to last and be here for years to come. At the same time it’s hard to believe all that. I just want to fight the best. I’ve heard of them bringing guys over in to Strikeforce and that excites me. There’s really not a lot of competition past Kennedy. I’m not looking past him by any means, but it’s hard not to see the rest of the division. Roger Gracie is coming back and Jacare is always tough as nails. How many times can we all fight each other. It would be nice to see some fresh faces. I like Strikeforce, but I can’t predict the future. They need to refuel it with fresh faces. I want to fight the best in the world. Everyone knows Anderson Silva is the best in the world. You can’t be the man unless you beat the best. Eventually I want to meet one on one. I got Tim Kennedy in front of me and I have to beat him first. It is what it is”.
Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold faces challenger Tim Kennedy on July 14th in Portland Oregon.