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5 UFC Middleweights Luke Rockhold Can Smash Right Now

Matt MolgaardCorrespondent IIINovember 26, 2012

5 UFC Middleweights Luke Rockhold Can Smash Right Now

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    It’s always easy to puff up the chest and speak big when a man is down and out. Just ask Lorenz Larkin, who suddenly took to accusing Strikeforce middleweight ace Luke Rockhold of exaggerating an injury in order to avoid facing him next month at Strikeforce: Champions.

    Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of watching Rockhold compete knows quite well that the chances of Luke “ducking” Lorenz aren’t exactly sizable. In fact, I’d all but guarantee Luke’s got legit health issues. The man has already run roughshod over the likes of Keith Jardine, Ronaldo Souza and Tim Kennedy. He’s got no reason whatsoever to fear the still developing Larkin.

    Whether or not the two will eventually meet inside the UFC’s octagon remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t be stunned to see Joe Silva pair these two up somewhere down the line. Just to give Luke a chance to silence a man hurling about unfounded accusations and implications.

    But, it’s important to try and be realistic about this whole thing. Lorenz Larkin in all likelihood has no business sharing cage time with a man of Rockhold’s caliber. Luke is a legitimate contender in the middleweight division, and he’s already prepared to tangle with the upper echelon of the UFC’s middleweight ranks.

    In fact, let’s take a look at those who are more than likely to fall to the soon to be former Strikeforce champion and newly minted UFC prospect.

Chris Leben

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    Chris is a go-for-broke fighter who’s never completely out of a fight until the referee has intervened, or the judges have sided with his opposition. A huge left hand and a rock solid chin ensure he remains a live dog in nearly every fight he’s in, and a bout with Rockhold would be no different.

    If Luke takes “the Crippler” lightly, he’ll take a nap for his arrogance. But Luke is a bit too wise to take any man lightly at this point in his career. He’s a fighter approaching his peak, and he’s insanely technical and intelligent inside the cage.

    Leben throws some bombs, but Luke Rockhold easily outmaneuvers the UFC veteran, picking his shots, and ultimately picking up a TKO victory in the bout’s final minutes.

Brian Stann

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    I like Brian Stann, quite a bit actually. He’s a tough guy who’s fighting hard to learn the ins and outs of a sport that was foreign to him just a handful of years ago. “The All-American” is a power puncher with some fairly crisp attacks.

    His problem is fluency, mobility and effectiveness on the mat. A bout between Luke and Brian likely never leaves the upright stance, but were it to happen, Luke is the far smoother of the two. His Jiu Jitsu is a few steps ahead of Stann’s and his wrestling is clearly superior to boot.

    That’s all irrelevant however. Because everything Brian Stann does well on the feet, Luke does a bit better. His combinations are more fluid, he’s a bit faster, a bit more precise and he’s got a killer instinct that few rival.

    This one looks like an amazing kickboxing contest for all of a round and a half, before Rockhold finds an opening and puts the war hero to sleep.  

Yushin Okami

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    This fight on paper looks awfully compelling. Okami is a massive middleweight who has just about mastered the art of using his size as his greatest weapon. But Luke is too squirrely for a guy like Okami to pin and pound on for 15 minutes.

    The scrambles favor Rockhold in this fight, and while Yushin may have an impressive reach, the American can more than likely force his way inside and land straight punches and knees from the Thai plum.

    Of the men on this list, “Thunder” has the best chance of toppling the Strikeforce vet. However, his obvious disdain for being punched in the face catches up with him and he freezes late in the fight, making way for a stunning knockout by Rockhold.

Jake Shields

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    Jake Shields is a wizard on the mat and a novice on the feet. How that’s possible after 35 fights is beyond me, but it’s a fact. The man just isn’t a very refined striker, at all. Against other foes, that may not be a huge issue. Having a slick ground game to fall back on can often save one’s tail.

    But there’s a problem for Jake here: He isn’t going to submit Rockhold. Luke has been in with some amazing submission specialists, and while not every moment of every one of those bouts was contested on the canvas, no one managed to come too close to submitting the man.

    Jake can take this one to the mat, but Luke is getting back up within moments, and eventually, he finds the chin of Shields.  

Mark Munoz

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    What I love about this potential clash is the frenetic pace it promises. Mark Munoz is a high-output fighter who likes to throw wild, looping bombs and loves to dump foes on their backs where he can pummel away with those sledgehammers of his.

    Luke is surprisingly athletic and very quick on his feet. He likely winds up on his back at least once during a contest with Munoz, but it’s doubtful he allows “the Filipino Wrecking Machine” to do much…wrecking.

    What seems more likely is an aggressive counter attack from Rockhold, who will time Mark’s windmill strikes and land laser guided straight punches in return.

    Mark hangs tough for a while in this bout, and may even survive to see the bell if he can put Rockhold down and stall enough to leave the final result questionable. That’s a fair bet. It’s not the bet I’d make, however.

    Munoz runs face-first into a perfectly placed counter right hand from Rockhold, and the fight turns into a Munoz versus Weidman debacle all over again.  

     

    Follow Matt Molgaard on Twitter.

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