Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Kennedy: Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Strikeforce returns to the public eye on July 14, showcasing a dynamite card with hot up-and-comers and established veterans.
The headliner of this Strikeforce card will be a middleweight title tilt between current champ Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy. Since winning the title against Ronaldo Souza, Rockhold has defended the title once in a knockout victory over Keith Jardine.
With Kennedy as the next challenge to his throne, can Rockhold retain the title? Let's take a look at the breakdown of these two men's skills.
Luke Rockhold, under the guidance of American Kickboxing Academy, is a very educated striker. The current champ has technical striking that allows him to make opponents uncomfortable.
This is not showcased in his 9-1 record, as he only holds two knockouts to his name. To be fair, his striking has set up most of his submission wins.
Tim Kennedy's striking has come a long way, but it is not on the level of Rockhold. Kennedy's striking is much better on the ground than in the stand-up department.
For this, the advantage is fairly obvious.
Advantage: Luke Rockhold
Tim Kennedy has a great wrestling attack which is complimented by a solid jiu-jitsu game. Kennedy's ground game can be traced back to his days as an army ranger, where he was taught a self-defense grappling system.
Kennedy is relentless with his takedowns and hard to deal with when he is on top. His ground-and-pound, combined with his submissions, make his grappling dangerous.
Rockhold is a solid grappler in his own right but not as good as Kennedy. The advantage goes to the former military man.
Advantage: Tim Kennedy
Both Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy have submission skills, but they are still separated in terms of skill level.
As stated, Rockhold's striking usually sets up his submissions. Of his six submissions, four are by rear-naked choke and one is by punches. These submissions are a result of Rockhold damaging his opponent with his hands and feet.
Kennedy is more of a pure submission guy. Kennedy has seven career submission wins which has seen such submissions as the guillotine choke, forearm choke and north-south choke.
Assuming Kennedy is in a submission war with Rockhold without being hurt on the feet, he is far more dangerous.
Advantage: Tim Kennedy
Going into this match, there are several intangibles that must be examined.
First, Rockhold trains at American Kickboxing Academy, meaning he will have a great game plan and training partners. This is a great advantage over Kennedy, as it will have him very well-prepared.
Also, Kennedy has not fought since his win last July over Robbie Lawler. There is the possibility that ring rust will be a factor, as Rockhold has fought twice since then. This will not help Kennedy the least bit.
As far as competition, one has to think that Kennedy has consistently faced more skilled fighters than Rockhold. Yes, Rockhold has locked horns with Ronaldo Souza, but that is really the only great fighter he has faced. Kennedy has battled Lawler, Souza and Jason "Mayhem" Miller.
Either way, this fight should be close.
Come fight night, we will have a great style matchup on our hands. Rockhold is a better striker, while Kennedy is a better ground fighter. Styles make fights and this stylistic matchup has the potential to be great.
As for the actual fight, it could really go either way. By my account, I feel that Kennedy is on his way to the top of the division. He will use his relentless takedowns to score points on Rockhold and frustrate the Californian.
Kennedy will be unable to put Rockhold away, but inevitably will earn the gold.
Prediction: Tim Kennedy def. Luke Rockhold via decision