UFC middleweight Luke Rockhold was a week shy of turning twelve when iconic Brazilian Vitor Belfort made his professional debut. Now, roughly sixteen years later, the two are set to tussle in the main event at UFC on FX 8. Though the gap between them might imply each is at a different point in his career, that is only true in terms of time left in the sport, as both are considered likely title-contenders and could earn a crack at the championship if victorious this weekend.
In a recent interview with MMAJunkie, the 28-year old Rockhold acknowledged the obvious experience difference existed while making it clear he certainly isn’t intimidated by Belfort’s advantage in that area.
“I feel like this is my time, and it’s going to be a changing of the guard. It’s just another opponent when the cage door closes,” stated Rockhold before detailing some of his strategy entering the affair.
“I definitely want to keep it exciting and high-paced and keep a lot of pressure on Vitor. I feel like I can beat him anywhere, and I have to employ my range and my kickboxing. I’m not going to just straight box with Vitor. That would be stupid,” explained Rockhold, showing a lot less apprehension about engaging Belfort in a grappling match. “If it goes to the ground, I think it’s my world. I know he’s a longtime black belt, but black belts don’t mean sh*t to me.”
Rockhold is 10-1 with eight stoppages and notable wins against Tim Kennedy, Keith Jardine, and Ronaldo Souza. Comparably, the 22-10 Belfort has finished eighteen adversaries including and Rich Franklin, Wanderlei Silva, most recently Michael Bisping.