Luke Rockhold and Lyoto Machida are set to collide this weekend in what promises to showcase the pinnacle of UFC middleweight talent. Rockhold netted three consecutive stoppage wins during his 2014 stint; conquering Philippou, Boetsch and Bisping, and now aims to propel himself into championship territory with a win over Lyoto Machida on Saturday night. The Californian thinks he has what it takes to shut down Machida's enigmatic fighting style at UFC on Fox 15:
"Yeah, he's definitely a difficult guy if you let him be that way. If you take away his momentum in the cage it can work against him in many ways. Controlling the ring is huge. Me, being the bigger guy, people underestimate my footwork. They don't know my subtleties and feints and that's going to play a big factor. He's fought some good guys, but I can strike with him, cut the corners, wrestle him, and he has to worry about every aspect of my game", Rockhold told MMAFighting.
The AKA standout then went on to assert himself as the most well-rounded fighter in mixed martial arts:
"I'll fight my fight. I'm going to control the cage, strike with him, and make him think about my takedowns. If he's taken to the ground, he'll get into trouble, and it'll open up my striking. The key is MMA, and I'm the most well-rounded fighter in the game. If I put it all together, I don't have to worry about too much", Luke told Dave Meltzer.
The conversation shifted towards the UFC's ambitious new drug-testing program which is set to roll out in July. The recent surge of competitors testing positive for performance enhancing drugs has prompted the UFC to collaborate with anti-doping chief Jeff Novitzky to aid in their crackdown on steroid abuse. Luke Rockhold is optimistic of Notvizky's UFC presence but is frustrated with Hector Lombard dodging a bullet with his minor one-year ban. Hector Lombard received a 12-month ban for using an anabolic steroid to aid in his victory over Josh Burkman at UFC 182. Rockhold isn't satisfied with just a 12 month suspension for the former Olympian:
"Everyone speaks highly of the guy. His track record is simply amazing, but I'll believe it when I see it. You see them making those efforts and then they try to make excuses for Anderson Silva. Anderson's a legend, but the fact is, he got caught for using steroids and he should be punished. They're talking about stepping up punishments, but it was still a one-year ban for Hector Lombard. One year in this sport is nothing. I'm disgusted by a one-year suspension", Rockhold affirmed to MMAFighting.
Contracts and words are good, but it's actions that truly speak. The UFC must deliver on their promises to flush out drug abuse within their promotion to truly enhance the professional image of the sport.
Luke Rockhold and Lyoto Machida are set to lock horns for UFC on FOX 15 on April 18.