Tomorrow marks the eighth outing for the UFC on FX. It also marks the last big crossover fight from Strikeforce, with it's middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold taking on Vitor Belfort. I don't know if I'm more excited about seeing Rockhold in the UFC or seeing him do battle with Vitor Belfort, but one thing is certain, I'm excited.
There was some concern, just a few short weeks ago, that this card might have been overshadowed by UFC 159, but with all the buzz surrounding the main event, and the many media appearances by it's two opponents, it's safe to say that the crescendo of interest is reaching fever pitch proportions. Both middleweight stars have been giving the media quite a bit to chew on in the lead up to the event.
I recently sat down with Luke to discuss his upcoming bout with Vitor, and to get his feelings on the whole UFC experience, TRT use in the sport, and how he feels about VADA testing. Here's what he had to say:
Obviously, there are circumstances where people have a legitimate need for it. Maybe they're in their forties or they were born with one ball, or something like that. I actually do know a fighter who only has one ball, so maybe in those cases, where their bodies don't produce enough testosterone naturally, they need to supplement to get to normal levels.
Then there's guys like Vitor, who are previous steroid users, and steroids have been known to lower your testosterone levels, yet they're still getting cleared to fight overseas, just so they can use the exemption. There's guys that are in their twenties that are on testosterone, which is a joke. It's becoming too rampant in our sport. Everyone is getting qualified for the exemption.
It's almost like a cover up. You know, being a fighter, you hear things, and these guys are way over their limits, and they're doing everything under the sun, winding down or cycling down to get their levels in the legal limits. Everyone is cheating the system, and I think there needs to be more testing done throughout the camps, and at the fight.
I understand that they'll probably never do it, because it jeopardizes those big fights. That puts a lot of money at risk, but I'd like to see more testing. I'd like to see the playing field leveled out.
Yeah, free ... "free". I extended myself out to VADA. I called them, because I was interested in it. It turns out that it's not so "free" after all. For me, I would have had to pay about three or four grand to do the testing. The whole point of doing it would be so that Vitor would also participate, so we could see if he was within the legal limits, but they wouldn't do that. Vitor would have to apply himself, through them, for a TUE. He'd be denied, most likely, because I think only something like 2% of the people that apply for them actually get them.
My guess is that he wouldn't apply through them. It would have been a lot of money out of my pocket for proving something that we already know is true. If he would have stepped up to do it, I'd shell the money out. It's too late now, but I would have been willing to test before the fight, after, six weeks out, three weeks out, every day ... it s wouldn't have mattered. I'm a clean fighter, and I'd like to help cleanup the sport.
I think people are sort of blinded by the UFC. Look at Josh Thomson. He goes in and has this great fight with Gilbert Melendez. A lot of people thought he won that last fight. Then, he goes in and beats a Top 10 guy in Nate Diaz. How far apart were Pat Healy and Jim Miller? Look what happened there. Nobody had either of those guys ranked. I hope people are starting to realize that we're coming in and we're handling business.
I thought he looked good in his last fight. He implemented his game plan very well. I'd fight him. He just beat a Top 10 guy and he has a name. That's a payday. I wouldn't shy away from a fight with him, any day. I'd also like to set the record straight. Bisping runs his mouth a little bit, and he ran his mouth on me, so it would be nice to shut that mouth.
Those jitters don't really play into my mindset. I just really don't see how it's that big of a difference. I'm going to fight in Brazil. I'm excited. It's almost fight time, and I have tunnel vision. Nothing is going to affect me.
Game Planning for Vitor
Vitor looks like he's 19 again. He's got that explosiveness of a young man. He's a wiry character. I'm gonna have to be sharp on my game, obviously. I haven't fought a striker like him before. I'm going to be a little more careful at first, but I'm also going to have to shut him off in the cage.
The first and second rounds are his best ones, if not the only ones. That's where I'll have to be sharp. The guys I've been fighting, I didn't really respect their striking, but Vitor is a different animal. I didn't respect Kennedy or Jacare's striking. I just came in, sloppy, looking to take them out. I got hit a couple of times pretty good by Jacare, and that sharpened me up a little, but with Kennedy, I just didn't respect him at all.
I really need to just calm down and pick my shots more carefully. I'm a lot better striker than what I've shown. I've got the power to put anyone away. I've just really got to be on my game. I've been feeling that way in the gym, and I'm going to be that way in the fight.
You can follow Luke via his Twitter account, @LukeRockhold