The last man to ever wear the Strikeforce middleweight belt, Luke Rockhold (10-1, MMA) will make his Octagon debut in the main event at UFC on FX 8 on May 18 against a legend of the sport, Vitor Belfort (22-10, MMA), in Brazil.
Though it’ll be nearly a year since Rockhold last fought by time he makes his promotional debut, the American Kickboxing Academy trained fighter from Santa Cruz, CA feels he can out-class Belfort in all areas of the game.
“I think my advantages is everywhere really. Vitor will always have fast hands, he has good power, but I pose a lot of problems myself. I’m a longer fighter, I have better kicks than him. I believe my advantages are on the ground, in wrestling, in the distance in the stand up. I have plenty of ways to win this fight. And most of all, I got more heart than Vitor. I think I’m more of a man than Vitor,” Rockhold told MMA Fight Corner.
However, Luke didn’t get the opportunity to come into the UFC’s 185 pound division and get an immediate title shot. His hope is a win over Belfort will put his name in contention.
“I’m focused on Vitor, but I don’t see how [a win] couldn’t warrant a title shot. I mean, Gilbert [Melendez] got an immediate title shot. I’ve defended my belt twice and taking out a top contender like Vitor, why wouldn’t I?”
Currently, Belfort has a TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) exemption and is permitted to fight as long as he tests within the ratios allowed by the UFC and the newly formed Brazilian Athletic commission where this particular fight is concerned. Also, the UFC is taking extra measures to test those on TRT during their training camps to monitor that their testosterone levels aren’t over limit.
“I think it’s a crock of s*** personally. I don’t understand it,” Luke said of Vitor’s TRT exemption. “I think Nevada set the standard for most of the other states. And it’s like the NBA and Baseball, if they travel overseas, they’re not going to be permitted to use steroids just because they’re overseas. I think it’s just crap. But at the same time, if they’re not going to punish him, I will. And I believe it hurts you in more ways than it helps you.”
While some fighters might feel that travelling to scrap in his opponent’s backyard means that they’re about to tread waters in hostile territory, Rockhold not only thinks he’ll be welcomed in the Arena Jaraguá in Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil, but said fighting Vitor in his native Brazil has him riled up even more for the impending battle.
“I’m fired up about it. It just fuels me even more. It just motivates me to train and it just puts a little chip on my shoulder. I’m pushing myself like nobody else. It sounds like I’ve got lots of fans out there and once I beat Vitor, obviously, I’ll bring everybody to my side,” said Rockhold. “From what I hear, a lot of Brazilians don’t like Vitor. They don’t like his cheating ways and I’m getting a lot of support on social media from Brazilians. So, I’m excited. I get a free trip to Brazil, I get paid, and I get to kick someone’s ass.”