Strikeforce has a new Middleweight Champion: Santa Cruz's Luke Rockhold. After battling for the full five rounds totalling 25 minutes, Jacare, aka "the Alligator," was not allowed to take it to the ground. After a unanimous decision Rockhold, a Soquel High grad, was awarded the middleweight title thought to be out of his reach, after sitting out 18 months with injuries.
His career is now an impressive 8-1.
As I watched the fight every round was a 100 percent effort for both fighters. Rockhold kept Jacare standing up almost the entire fight, playing right into his strategy. Jacare landed some good strikes in the early rounds drawing some blood, but Rockhold had no problem countering with body kicks and steady jabs.
When the fight did go to the ground it was Rockhold who maintained a calm demeanor and meticulously worked his way out of Jacare's grasp. Every round seemed as if Luke may have a chance to finish the fight with his persistent strikes and unpredictable kicks, only to have time run out with both fighters still standing.
While the underdog in so many facets, Rockhold trained hard and brought his "A" game to the fight. The judges came back unanimous with Rockhold on top. Two scored it 48-47 and one 50-45.
An emotional Rockhold thanked his sponsors, and was obviously overwhelmed with the decision. He repeatedly thanked his friends and family, his coaches at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose and his corner.
Watching the fight at Motiv in downtown Santa Cruz the entire bar erupted when the announcer paused then let it be known there was a new Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.
There was never a doubt from my point of view, I knew Luke could do it. Now it's on to the next big thing and with Ultimate Fighting Competition's acquisition of Strikeforce, it's only a matter of time before the two leagues are combined into one powerhouse. With Rockhold's position as Strikeforce Middleweight Champion one would think we might see an Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Champion) vs. Luke Rockhold card to determine the overall champion.
Read MMA Fighting article