As wide a favorite as Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold was heading into his first title defense against seasoned veteran Keith Jardine, he couldn’t afford to look much less than completely dominant against a difficult fighter in The Dean of Mean.
Kudos to him, as the 27-year-old did just that, meeting his seasoned and eager opponent in the center of the cage and trading with him from the start to the finish of their championship bout. Jardine hung in there and made a fight of it, but in the end, Rockhold was a step faster and a lot sharper, catching Jardine with a textbook counter right hook that staggered him and pouncing on him with punches to finish the fight.
“Man, it means a lot,” Rockhold said after the fight. “Fighting a guy like Keith Jardine, who’s a proven opponent. He’s tough and he came to fight. Too bad for him I love fighting and when the cage door shuts, I feel like it’s my world. Once you get past all the press and all the build up, you get in the cage and it just feels amazing.”
When asked his thoughts on facing Tim Kennedy in his next outing, Rockhold like Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez called for the chance to fight those considered to be the best in his division.
“You know what? I like fighting, I like getting paid, but I love competition and striving to be the best. Right now, all the best guys are in the UFC – at least the top ten ranked… those are the guys I want,” he said. “I want to climb to the top, I want to fight the best in the world. I think they should bring over some top contenders. Let’s see who the true number one contender is because I believe I am and I want the chance to prove it.”
Rockhold improves to 9-1 in victory and makes the first successful defense of his Strikeforce middleweight title.
In other action on the Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine main card, Robbie Lawler got back in the win column with a first round TKO over Adlan Amagov that he started off with a wild jumping knee. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal beat down the previously unbeaten Lorenz Larkin, scoring a TKO via ground and pound in second round, while Tarec Saffiedine and Tyron Woodley took home split decision wins.
Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine went down tonight from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.