This Saturday Night: Vitor Belfort vs Luke Rockhold

In the past month, we’ve seen the success of Strikeforce fighters in the UFC. Josh Thomson became the first man to finish Nathan Diaz via strikes. Gilbert Melendez arguably beat Benson Henderson in the eyes of many — except the judges (in their defense it was a close affair). No matter what future records will say, we all know that Pat Healy choked Jim Miller out cold.

Now it’s Luke Rockhold’s turn to make his mark in the UFC. The hip-looking surfer from California is well-rounded in all areas. He’s effective with his striking and grappling. If you had to point to a weakness, its him being prone to injuries. Another thing to think about is the lack of, unanimously agreed upon, top-level competition. I do think that Tim Kennedy and Jacare Souza are top-fifteen level middleweights. So those two are the best feathers in Rockhold’s cap. Keith Jardine — nothing against him — but even Hank from “Breaking Bad” beats him up.

When measuring up Vitor Belfort against Souza or Kennedy, it’s difficult to say who’s the best fighter out of those three. But Belfort’s higher ranked, has a better resume and is a much bigger name than either of those two. Stylistically speaking, Belfort has something that neither Souza or Kennedy have — that quick KO finishing ability.

Do I think Rockhold is talented enough to keep the fight standing and win a fight with his striking? I do. Do I think it’s the best game plan? I’m not sure about that, at least for the first round. Unless you’re Anderson Silva, there is always a risk standing with Belfort. I’m glad to hear that Rockhold at least knows to be alert -to be trucha – in the first round. Perhaps it would be in Rockhold’s best interest to wear down Belfort with his grappling early on to tire out the “young dinosaur” (as Belfort affectionately referred to himself once).

This isn’t an out of this world match-up. But it’s a nice match-up between two top ten level middleweights. At the end of the night, we will know if Rockhold is as talented as some of us think he is. If he’s not, at least he still has that name. That should count for something, right?

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