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New Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold never doubted AKA's ability to sweep

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Budgellism

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Prior to claiming the Strikeforce middleweight title, Luke Rockhold made a bold prediction.

A few days after Brazilian fighters swept their American counterparts at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Rockhold told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) he expected revenge.

In fact, he promised he and his American Kickboxing Academy teammates would sweep their Brazilian opponents at Saturday's "Strikeforce World Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov" event. Following an AKA clean sweep, no one's doubting him now.

"I had confidence in my camp," Rockhold told MMAjunkie.com after Saturday's event at Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena. "Everyone was just rising to the occasion. We were just pushing each other really hard through this camp.

"Yeah, AKA. Don't step on our turf."

Rockhold (8-1 MMA, 7-0 SF), of course, did his part by upsetting champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (14-3 MMA, 4-1 SF) via unanimous decision. The fighter, who's spent the majority of his career developing under the Strikeforce banner, fought in a featured bout on the night's Showtime-televised main card. While the media's cageside scoring ranged from 48-47 for Rockhold to MMAjunkie.com's 49-46 score for Souza, the judges saw it more clearly and awarded the new champ the victory, 50-45, 48-47 and 48-47.

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Post #1   9/11/11 10:58:25AM   

prophecy033

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I have to admit, I picked Jacare in this one, man was I an idiot. Rockhold controlled that fight for the last 4 rounds and made Jacare look like he was the one coming off a 19 month layoff. Rockhold converted me

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Post #2   9/11/11 12:31:13PM   

Budgellism

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AKA is blowing up. They're producing some great prospects.

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Post #3   9/11/11 2:08:35PM   

isk

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Rockhold looked excellent - not just in skill and technique but in durability. A lot of guys lose something over the course over such a long layoff, but it's obvious Rockhold's rehab went well (at least for the short term) and that he trained his ass off. Awesome cardio and aggression.

He also showed a decent chin, and that's not something you can train overmuch. Jacare is a special athlete with excellent power in his hands, and each time Rockhold was clipped he got right back up, not entirely unlike Velasquez in the Kongo bout.

Additionally, Rockhold might be the only guy I've seen against Jacare in an MMA fight who was able to quickly and repeatedly escape the takedown. Sure, Jacare nailed a few, but Rockhold limited both damage received and time spent on his back. Robbie Lawler was able to do this to an extent, but he was largely controlled and eventually choked out.

What's next from here? Well, I wouldn't be opposed to an immediate rematch because it was a close fight. I subjectively think the correct decision was made overall, and FightMetric agrees, but the 50-45 Rockhold card is egregiously discounting the hard shots and takedowns of Jacare throughout the fight. One thing Jacare does need to figure out is why he slowed down. Was it a pure lack of cardio? Strategic conservation of energy? Trying to time a counter? Either way, he'll need to address this to have more than a puncher's chance for the belt. This isn't to discount Jacare's incredible ground game. It's just that I think he'd need constant pressure on Rockhold to submit or win through ground control, and for that he'd need cardio.

Or he could land a crazy shot in a scramble like Hendo did on Fedor, but again, that's a puncher's chance.

For Rockhold, I'd like to see more head movement and, if possible, development of his striking power. Jacare is a tough dude for anyone to KO, and it may be possible that Rockhold is more of the volume striking school (like Edgar, Diaz, Bisping, etc.). But if he can add legitimate KO power to his strikes, he'll be a very tough guy to beat.

Beyond that, the only real sensible matchup for Rockhold within SF at this time is Tim Kennedy. A tough guy with a great ground game, but unless he's made the same kind of improvements to his striking game that Rockhold has (which is a major question considering his awkwardness in his fight with Jacare), I don't think he has anything for the new champ.

Last edited 9/11/11 2:40PM server time by isk
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Post #4   9/11/11 2:17:35PM   

prozacnation1978

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Rockhold is very good. Only reason I didn't pick him was the 19 month lay off

I think him vs tim kennedy will happen next

Post #5   9/11/11 3:26:18PM