Last night, Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold said he was going to retain his tile against "The Dean of Mean" Keith Jardine. Like it or not, he did just that.
He showed a flashy array of kicks, an ability to maintain his composure against the cage, and some very accurate landing with his punches, all of which Jardine had no answer to in the striking realm outside of some of his patented leg kicks.
Rockhold basically dissected and demolished Jardine, which we all expected, but when Mauro Ranallo brought up Rockhold's initially-anticipated opponent Tim Kennedy, Rockhold had other plans.
Specifically, the terms of Rockhold's "other plans" involved a few UFC middleweights going to Strikeforce, and the mention of Kennedy or any other Strikeforce middleweight were somewhat brushed off until the post-fight press conference.
Now, had one asked immediately after the fight if Rockhold's head was getting too big, I might have easily said that it was, but now that the adrenaline rush has cooled out, his head no longer seems so swollen.
In the heat of the moment after the win, he called out the UFC middleweight lineup and looked ready to prove that he belonged, but even he knows that other challenges exist in Strikeforce, even if there aren't that many of them.
Tim Kennedy was to have gotten Rockhold before an injury forced Kennedy from the bout, Robbie Lawler is only two or three more wins away from another crack at the gold, and let's not forget that one judge made a claim that said Jacare Souza lost all five rounds in his September bout with Rockhold.
Simply put, Rockhold knows he has some competition left in Strikeforce before he gets his crack at the UFC middleweight division, and he knows there are still a few questions that need to be answered about his end potential as a fighter, so now is the time for him to keep his nose to the grindstone and focus on defeating the best in the division in which he reigns now before he even thinks about the UFC middleweight division.
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