With three cards in three days, UFC stars will be out in full effect in Las Vegas this weekend — many of who’ve been waiting for this sort of platform to shine.
Put middleweight No.1 contender Luke Rockhold (14-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) in the category. The former Strikeforce middleweight champion and his American Kickboxing Academy camp are excited for the opportunity to show the world they are the first to come up with a game plan to take down undisputed and undefeated middleweight champion Chris Weidman (13-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) in their co-main event fight at UFC 194.
After a tough camp which consisted of a lot of sparring and wrestling with UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, Rockhold and company are ready to take on the biggest challenge of his career.
Rockhold’s striking coach and trainer Javier Mendez t0ld Today’s Knockout how he thinks the Weidman vs. Rockhold fight will play out:
“I’m as confident as I can be considering that I think we are fighting probably one of the greats. [Weidman] doesn’t have very many holes; he is good at everywhere. So I’m confident we are going to edge him out, I’m not confident we are going to wipe him out because Chris Weidman is a great champion. I feel Luke has done his homework, he’s in great physical and mental shape. He’s had great sparring. In fact, he’s never been able to spar Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez back-to-back and was able to this camp and that was a big booster in confidence for Luke and shows he is locked into becoming a champion.”
All the way across the board, the fight between Weidman and Rockhold is as close to an even fight as you can get, Mendez says. Even if you ignore the physical similarities and abilities, you still have a seemingly even matchup.
In Weidman, you have a man who believed in his abilities and himself so much, he knew he would be the one to defeat the great Anderson Silva to become the UFC middleweight champ in 2013. While on the other side of the coin, Rockhold has been telling anybody who will listen since the fight was announced that Dec. 12 will be the day he becomes a new UFC champion.
Mendez says of all his fighters at AKA, Rockhold is the one who needs the least mental preparation.
“[Rockhold] doesn’t need anything from me but to hear, ‘You are on track,’” Mendez says.
“I think he’s poised to become a UFC champion come Saturday night.”