While 2013 has not been the best year for Strikeforce Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, he has a chance to start off 2014 in a positive manner.
Rockhold will face Constantinos “Costa” Philippou at UFC Fight Night 35, Jan. 15, 2014, in Georgia. Not only will this be the Strikeforce champion’s first fight in almost a year, but also it will be his second chance at capturing his first victory inside of the octagon.
Rockhold’s UFC debut did not his way the first time as he faced Vitor Belfort, who knocked him out in the first round after a spinning head kick and several strikes. The Strikeforce champion was supposed to fight in Tim Boetsch in October, but a knee injury would force him out of the fight.
Philippou makes a good opponent for Rockhold. While both fighters have good grappling skills, I would give Rockhold the edge because he has more experience in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submissions on his record. They are also close when it comes to striking though Philippou has good boxing and more knockouts. That said, Rockhold trains in American Kickboxing Academy with good strikers like Cain Vealsquez, Daniel Cormier and Josh Thomson.
When he was the Strikeforce champion, Rockhold wanted to fight then-champion Anderson Silva. Although a victory over Philippou would not get him a title shot, it would at least put him in the position for a fight against a higher-ranked opponent.
Who do you think will win this fight? Answer with a comment below, send a tweet to @alstover or email [email protected]