UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will defend his belt for the first time against Chris Weidman, the man he dethroned in December of 2014. Speaking to Katie Nolan at Wednesday’s edition of “Garbage Time”, UFC President Dana white revealed that Rockhold will fight Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight belt at UFC 199 sometime in June.
It can be recalled that Rockhold challenged Weidman for the 185-pound title at UFC 194 last December 12th, 2014. After an exciting first two rounds, Rockhold took over the next two rounds and beat up Weidman en route to a 4th round TKO victory. The victory ended a 13-fight winning streak for Weidman, who became the first fighter to defeat the legendary Anderson Silva twice by KO and in successive bouts. Weidman first beat Silva at UFC 162 in 2013 in a stunning knockout that won him the UFC middleweight title. Six months later, Weidman beat Silva again after the Brazilian Spider suffered a leg injury while Weidman was checking one of his leg kicks. Weidman went on to defend the belt twice against former Light Heavyweight champions Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort before losing to Rockhold.
On A Mean Streak
Rockhold is 15-2 in his career. He is on a mean streak, having won five fights in a row since losing to Belfort in his UFC debut in 2013. All five of those victories have been by stoppage and four have won him post fight performance bonuses. The San Jose, California fighter is also a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. He owns notable victories over Jacare Souza, Keith Jardine, Tim Kennedy, Costas Philippou, Tim Boetsch, Michael Bisping and Machida. Rockhold was supposed to defend his belt against Yoel Romero, who beat Jacare Souza also at UFC 194 but a potential failed out of competition drug test has put the Cuban striker in the UFC’s freezer for now. Known for his elite striking and punishing leg kicks, Rockhold is once again favored in his rematch with Weidman.
Who Takes This?
At -175 versus Weidman’s +145, the early betting lines have been almost similar to those during their first encounter at UFC 194. Even though Rockhold destroyed Weidman in the last two rounds of that bout, it was a back and forth contest when it started and until Weidman’s ill-fated spinning back kick led to his Octagon demise. Weidman is considered the best wrestler in the middleweight division but the former All-American Division 1 wrestler failed to take advantage of that against Rockhold who not only displayed his excellent striking but also showed an impressive takedown defense. Rockhold’s striking, especially his leg kicks, make it almost impossible for Weidman to run right through him without getting pummeled first. If Weidman cannot find a way to take Rockhold down, the rematch will likely end like the first fight. And even if Weidman does take Rockhold to the ground, the latter has a very impressive ground game with 9 submissions overall.