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Luke Rockhold calls his shot against Chris Weidman: 'A left kick or a left hand' will finish him

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UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman is confident ahead of his UFC 194 title defense against Luke Rockhold. So confident, in fact, that he told Ariel Helwani on last week's The MMA Hour that he thought the surging Rockhold's tough talk in the media bout him was just a display of insecurity.

"I'm excited to go out there and just really run through Luke," Weidman said. "I just really cannot imagine myself losing to him. I know he'll talk the same way, but I think he's just kind of faking it. I don't think he really believes he can beat me, but he knows what to say.

"These guys know in the weight (class), I think they're starting to get it. And he's one of the guys who knows. I think he's a little insecure about himself, and I feel like that's why he has to pump his chest up all the time and go a little overboard. I think he's just insecure and I think he knows what's coming. I think he'd much rather be fighting anyone else besides me."

Consider the ante upped. Still, Rockhold finds the comments from Weidman perplexing or perhaps some bizarre psychological experiment.

"I really don't know what's going through his head," Rockhold told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "He's a psychology major, right? Maybe he's just messing with himself. I don't know. He's built these things up in his head. I don't know what he's reading into, but he's about to wake up to a different story come 12/12 [the date of their fight].

"I don't see where he sees weakness in my game and what I've brought to the table. I've been through some tough battles through my career and he's seen a lot of those in the past, in my Strikeforce days and I think I've proven myself even more so now," he noted. "People haven't seen the wars, in UFC, that I've had in Strikefore and what I am capable of. I can dig deep and I just don't know where he thinks he's going to break me. I think he is underestimating every part of my game. He's going to be surprised when he tries to wrestle and I'm shutting him down everywhere. This will ultimately probably end up on the feet. I don't see what he brings to the table."

In fact, as Rockhold sees it, Weidman's built up an identity that based on a false sense of security. Yes, he's the champion and yes, he has big names on his resume. But those names are just that: names without much more to show for Weidman's efforts.

"He's fought a bunch of guys that were scared of him. He fought a one-legged 'spider', a fireless 'dragon' and an 'old lion' with his balls cut off. I mean, this time he's facing a different animal at this point in time and I'm going to bring it to him on all levels and shut him down," he argued. "I think he knows he's in for a fight. He's known this was going to be a fight a long time ago and it's finally here. He's just kinda building himself up any way possible."

The back and forth in the media has been a battle of confidence, who can project the most strength while assuming the fewest weaknesses. On that front, Weidman has noted how they've both fared against mutual opposition, in particular Vitor Belfort. Where Rockhold was stopped in the first-round via strikes off of a blistering kick, Weidman stopped the former Brazilian champion in a round. That argument, Rockhold argued, is deeply mistaken and part of Weidman's delusions.

"He keeps comparing out Vitor Belfort fights. That's a bad way to look at things. We fought different guys," Rockhold claimed, noting the Belfort he fought was on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) while Weidman did not. "On that night, I got caught by a crazy kick and he got caught by an old saggy Vitor and still almost got him. If you want to compare a fight, you compare our [Lyoto] Machida fights. We fought a pretty similar Machida. I think he came back, almost got Weidman, had a nice showing against C.B. Dollaway and then came back in with a lot of confidence and hype behind him and I completely shut him down. Weidman could barely hold him down at times and you saw what I was able to do to him."

Rockhold actually views the Belfort experience more fondly. Whereas he sees Weidman as having convinced himself of greatness based on not-so meaningful wins, Rockhold views himself as having a tougher, slower path that is only now starting to pay dividends. Rockhold believes that's grounded him in reality and given him confidence about the upside he's yet to attain.

"I know how I'm going to fight these days. If it's not broke, don't fix it. Vitor kinda took a lot of the weight off of my shoulders with that fight. I carried a lot into that fight," he confessed. "That just helped me relax and focus on nothing. Just relaxing, really. I think that's the key to my success as of late. It's just ultimate relaxation and not caring, not holding onto winning and losing and just going out there and believing in myself and believing my preparation and my camp and everything I bring to the table.

"I'm just getting warmed up in this game. I'm looking forward to this fight with Weidman. I think he's going to bring the best out of me. He's a tough guy. He's going to be able to take some shots and I'm going to be able to get lose and start letting my stand-up go. He's going to be shocked when he can't take me down. I guarantee he's going to try to take me down. He might get me down for a minute. I'm going to bounce back up, start shutting down all of his takedowns and going to start doing my thing on the feet and start teeing off like Tiger Woods."

As for how he sees Weidman, Rockhold's willing to offer some praise. Like him, he thinks the champion has also improved. He also agrees there are things about his character as a competitor that have to be respected. In the end, though, skills matter and that's where Rockhold thinks the difference between the two will show in his favor.

"I think he's getting a little better, maybe a little more relaxed," Rockhold said of Weidman. "He still looks clunky and slow and weird. These kicks he's throwing, I don't know what he's thinking, man. If he tries to pull that stuff off of him, I'm going to make him pay for every dumb kick he throws. He might be a worse kicker than Bisping. I'm not even lying right now. He's pretty bad in that department.

"I'm looking forward to getting in there and mixing it up. I think he's confident. I think he gets by on his grit and toughness, that he comes forward and these guys are kinda scared of getting taken down and holding back," he continued. "I'm going to meet him in the middle. I'm not going to worry about the takedown. I will defend the takedowns and I'm going to make him pay. I'm going to cut angles. I'm going to be slicker, I'm going to be faster, I got more weapons. I'm going to hurt this dude in every way. Even if it hits the ground, I guarantee I will be superior in every area of this fight."

When a fighter is confident in themselves and believe they know their opponent better than they know themselves, that's when fighters start getting into the prediction business. Rockhold admitted he can never be 100 percent sure of anything. The fight game is bizarre and crazy things happen.

But that doesn't mean he's hedging his bets about his chances. Quite the opposite, really. As the former Strikeforce middleweight champion sees it, well, he sees it. Rockhold believes he can call how Weidman is going to attack him, back up and eventually suffer defeat at his hands and stated as much on the record in a public interview.

"Weidman's going to come forward, he's going to try to wrestle, he's going to try to pressure me. I'm going to stop him, I'm going to hit him with everything I got. He'll probably try to take me down. I guarantee I'm going to threaten him. I'm going to put some kind of submission or get back up. He's going to panic, we're going to get back to our feet and then I'm going to start finding my groove on the feet, cutting him off.

"He comes forward very strong at the beginning, but when you hit him with something, he starts backing up and playing that middle ground game, that's a game where he's going to lose," Rockhold boldly said. "I'm going to catch him with something clean. It's going to be a left kick or a left hand."

Whether it's one of those two choices or something else, Rockhold's most important point is that he is as certain as one reasonably can be he's going to be the new UFC middleweight champion. Whatever doubts Weidman or anyone else has about him, Rockhold believes, will be silenced before Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor ever hear their walkout music.

"I'm going to dominate this fight," Rockhold asserted. "I'm going to show I'm the best fighter in the world."

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