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UFC 194: Pros predict Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- Back in July, after a memorable fight week that saw McGregor mania sweep the streets of Las Vegas, UFC 189's soft-spoken co-main event stole the entire show by staging one of the greatest battles of all-time.

Now, I'm not saying that Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold will match the ultra-violent spectacle that Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald put on that night. That is obviously a ridiculous standard to hold any fight too. But the circumstances surrounding UFC 194 certainly feel similar, don't they?

So can Weidman continue his run through the pages of middleweight history? Will Rockhold become the latest Strikeforce product to hold UFC gold? The pros of UFC 194 fight week were near unanimous with their Aldo-McGregor picks. History couldn't repeat itself twice, could it...?

More Coverage: UFC 194 Results | UFC news

Star-divide

Demian Maia: Man, that fight is a lot more tough to say than Aldo-McGregor. Rockhold is just so good. Very good jiu-jitsu. I have friends who train with him, they say his jiu-jitsu is amazing. But I still think Weidman is the favorite, because he is the champion. He's never lost. And you know, I fought him. I know how tough he is and how good he is. He keeps evolving. I think if he had a good training camp and he's not injured, he'll win. He's better.

Joe Lauzon: That's a great fight. I love Weidman. I love (Matt) Serra and (Ray) Longo and all those guys. They're always awesome, they're super exciting, and Weidman is an animal. I think that Weidman and Rockhold are very, very similar skill-wise, style-wise. But you've got to go with the fact that Weidman, he is the guy. It's tough that way, when guys are so similar. It's tough to pick against a guy who's got the experience, a guy who's been a title fights, a guy who's been put under the pressure.

Rockhold did it a whole lot for Strikeforce, but this is different. Chris is a different animal, and I definitely think it's a finish. Weidman is so long. He's great. We don't really see Weidman's submissions skills all the time, but he's very, very good. He's been beating people up with other stuff, but people [forget he has] great submissions, too.

Frankie Saenz: I'm a Weidman fan. Just his toughness. I've heard from buddies of mine who like to wrestle with him, and it's something. Weidman is just a freak. He's a tough guy. He doesn't quit, he just goes forward, and you see that in his fights. You see that he doesn't get shaken. I don't think Rockhold has anything Weidman hasn't seen, and I think Weidman beats him up. I'll go with a finish for Weidman.

Urijah Faber: Jeez man, I'm so... I just don't know in that fight. I feel like both guys are extremely athletic. Weidman, to me, has the better pedigree as far as wrestling goes, and that carries a lot of weight. But we've seen Rockhold, who is training with DC and training with all the guys who are high-level grapplers over there. He's training with Cain. So when it all nullifies and it just comes down to a knock-down, drag-out fight, you have to just go with the champion in general.

Jeremy Stephens: Man, I like Rockhold, but I think Chris Weidman is going to be too much. Too much pressure. He's going to be able to mix it up with that wrestling, and he's got great wrestling. But overall, man, Weidman, really impressed me with that Machida fight. He was able to elevate his game. Rockhold dominated Machida, but I feel like Chris Weidman can get hit and he doesn't mind. I've seen Rockhold kind of wither when he gets hit. Weidman has been in there, and I think he's got the abilities to put it on Luke Rockhold. But it's going to be a great fight. It's a great match-up, but I give the edge to Weidman.

Ronaldo Souza: It's a very hard fight to make a prediction, but I believe the guy who is able to enforce his game will be able to win the victory, and I believe Weidman has an edge on that.

Max Holloway: Man, I don't know. That's a great fight. But I'll go Luke. I think Luke might pull it off, man. He's just been amazing his last couple fights. Hey, Chris Weidman has been amazing too, but I don't know, I think Luke might have it. I think Chris worked on his speed, which I think he did because he kind of had to. I heard he's lighter now, so good for him. But we'll see. Luke is just... every time Luke fights he just trips my mind. Like, how the hell is he doing this?

Luke is a freaking MMA fighter. He's a great MMA guy. Everybody is like, ‘oh, Chris Weidman is probably going to take him down.' Yeah, maybe. But this guy trains with a heavyweight Daniel Cormier. So the wrestling aspect might be there and he might actually have a look for Weidman. We'll see what happens. I don't know, but I'm excited. I just want to watch that fight. I'm kind of blown away that no one is picking Luke, but yeah, he's a freaking animal. I think I might be in for another mind-blowing again, so I'm going Luke.

Edson Barboza: That's a great fight. I'm very excited to watch that fight, but I think Weidman is still the champion after. I think he finishes Luke. I think so, in the fifth (round). He'll surprise him. But I'm very excited to watch this fight.

Tony Ferguson: I got Weidman. Weidman is awesome, dude. A wrestler who brings it all the time, and he flies under the radar, too. He's one of those guys who doesn't get enough props. Unfortunately for us in this art, you have to talk s**t in order to get known. And if you talk s**t inside the Octagon, it still is not the same. You have to stay consistent with talking s**t. But if you're not good at talking s**t, and you're a blue-chip wrestler and you went to college, and you actually are educated, you really don't need to talk crap. It's only when somebody pisses you off.

And I'd like to just say that in preparing for certain things, you have Luke Rockhold and these big names gyms like AKA -- you don't need it. I have a small circle. I train out of Orange County. I don't have a head coach, I oversee all of my stuff. Chris Weidman, he has enough people who he trusts in his small circle who keep him to where he's at. He's going to whip Luke's ass.

Din Thomas: You know, there's a lot of ways that fight could play out between Weidman and Rockhold, because they're such different fighters. They're very easy to sell, because they kind of have similar looks. All-American white kids. East coast, west coast. You can kind of sell them the same way, but they're very different fighters. I believe the speed advantage goes to Rockhold. I believe the ground game kind of nullifies each other. I believe Weidman has the wrestling advantage. But I think what it's really going to come down to is the mental advantage, and who wants it more.

Is Weidman willing to dig deep and fight a guy like that? I believe Rockhold is the biggest threat to him so far. But here's something else that a friend of mine just brought to my attention: he thinks Weidman didn't take off any offseason. He's been training this whole time. In the past, he may have taken off and gotten a little soft. But he believes he's been in shape this whole time, because he's so light. That's interesting, because if he did that, that means his mentality is he's going to go in there to defend his title, not just go in there to fight. So it's interesting.

Right now I'm leaning Weidman, but last week I was leaning Rockhold because I think he might be the more well-rounded, better fighter. But I think it's going to come down to a mental game, and I just don't know if Luke is mentally prepared to go in there and take the belt from him. He's going to have to take it from him, because Weidman is not going to hand it over. He's not going to break. He's not going to hand it over. Skill-wise, Rockhold is the better fighter. But mentally, can he go in there and take it from him? I don't think so, man. I was telling somebody earlier, I haven't been this excited for an event since Royce Gracie fought Kimo Leopoldo, and that was in 1994. So this is exciting for me.