Luke Rockhold defeated Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza over a grueling five rounds last night at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov to inherit the Strikeforce middleweight title, though he’s not exactly eager to let his future title fights see the last bell.
Not only was it the first time that Rockhold had seen the championship rounds, it was the first time that the 26-year-old American Kickboxing Academy product had gone out of the first round. Speaking with MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani post-fight, a bruised but upbeat Rockhold discussed what it was like to be in a five-round dogfight.
“I took some good shots. My ankles are killing me, I kicked so many elbows. *Whew* I don’t even want to stand up right now,” Rockhold admitted. “He got me with some good push kicks, or little snap kicks to my gut, and I’m not gonna lie, those didn’t feel good. Twenty-five minutes is just hell. Man, that’s brutal. I couldn’t believe the guy wouldn’t go away, I was hitting him with some good shots. I don’t know. Twenty-five minutes is just tough. I know I got another twenty-five minute camp ahead of me here, whoever it is. Or maybe not, maybe I can get in the UFC and get back into three-rounders.”
Laughing a bit as he said the last bit, Helwani asked Rockhold if he were serious or not; the newly-minted champ played it diplomatic, explaining that he’s up for whatever comes his way and, considering the uncertainty that hangs over Strikeforce, that’s probably the best way to play it.
“No, I want whatever happens,” he said. “I’m open for everything, I just want to fight the best guys in the world. I’m here to be the best and I’ll train — whatever it’s gonna take, I’m gonna get the job done.”