Strikeforce: Rockhold Vs. Kennedy Preview
STUDIO MMA, RIVERSIDE, CA – Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold [9-1-0 MMA] will defend his title for the second time against challenger Tim Kennedy [14-3-0 MMA] on July 14 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon.
Rockhold – has won 8 straight in the Strikeforce promotion, finishing all but one of his opponents in the opening round. Three of these victories came over UFC veterans: Jesse Taylor, Paul Bradley and Keith Jardine. Rockhold KO’d Jardine this past January to retain his title that he earned in a close but unanimous decision victory over heavily favored BJJ wizard Ronald “Jacare” Souza.
A member of the famed American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) and a brown belt under renowned instructor, Dave Camarillo, the 27 year old Rockhold has executed six submissions in his pro career. In his bouts against “Jacare” and Jardine he displayed an ever –improving striking game that featured an array of kicking techniques.
In the “Jacare” fight, Rockhold also impressed with his greatly improved takedown defense. He will look to do the same in his upcoming bout against Kennedy, who is no slouch on the ground.
Kennedy – is one of very few professionals who simultaneously fight and serve full time in the U.S military. Kennedy has only lost three times, with win streaks in between each loss. After suffering a TKO (cut) loss in his first career bout to Scott Smith, Kennedy bounced back with eight straight wins. One of those victories came over the notable Jason “Mayhem” Miller the only man to take Kennedy the distance. Miller revenged that loss with a decision over Kennedy in 2007. But, as before, Kennedy came back even stronger, racking up four consecutive wins to earn his first world title shot. Kennedy came up short in a close decision loss to “Jacare” Souza. Now riding back-to-back wins over Melvin Manhoef and Robbie Lawler, Kennedy once again finds himself one win away from the title.
The 32-year-old Kennedy emerged from the PIT fight team, where he trained a considerable amount with former UFC light heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer, Chuck Liddell. Unlike Liddell, Kennedy usually uses his outstanding grappling skills to secure victories. Though he doesn’t come from a wrestling background, Kennedy’s top game is revered.
Kennedy now trains at Greg Jackson’s gym with notable UFC middleweight Brian Stann and Strikeforce’s Keith Jardine.
Many observers feel that both Rockhold and Kennedy do not get the recognition they deserve. Most argue that this is due to the lack of cachet represented in the Strikeforce promotion. But, an objective analysis of their records – which included wins over UFC fighters – suggests otherwise.
The odds – makers have Rockhold as an early favorite over Kennedy. This is hard to argue with as Rockhold is a very large middleweight and has looked phenomenal in his last few outings. But, one should not disregard the aggressive grinding style of Kennedy, who is always looking to snag a neck.