Luke Rockhold certainly doesn't lack for confidence.
In December, Rockhold unseated UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, stopping him with strikes in the fourth round and taking the belt. A rematch was announced as the main event of UFC 199 and as part of their media obligations, the 2 fighters have been doing press appearances together. Wednesday evening Rockhold and Weidman made an appearance on Fox Sports Live, sitting down with Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole to talk about their upcoming title fight.
"[Chris] seems a bit lost,' Rockhold said. "I don't know if you're seeing the same things I'm seeing but it's pretty obvious. You never know what day of the month with Chris, if he's gonna be on his period or not...You never know how this roller coaster is gonna go."
Rockhold seemed to be making a concerted effort to get under the skin of Weidman but to Weidman's credit he never seemed too put off. Instead of engaging in ad hominem attacks on Rockhold, Weidman seemed focused on discussing the parameters of the fight itself and how things have changed.
"Right now I'm feeling okay,' joked Weidman. 'I had some cramps during the Unstoppable event so that might have you know, went into something, got a little emotional. But he's right, I'm not used to losing. I didn't lose for seven years. I was undefeated. I couldn't imagine losing. So to lose the belt is different for me and weird and I take it very seriously and I take it personal and I get emotional when I think about it. So I can't deny what he's saying.
"Am I lost? No. I'm actually more focused than I've ever been in my life right now. You learn more, I think, from adversity than if everything was going smooth. So right now I'm on a path to become a way better fighter than I ever would have been if I would have won that fight. My potential is gonna be reached."
Rockhold was having none of that, interjecting during Weidman's statement to say that Weidman would reach his potential "at 205," not at middleweight. Weidman laughed this off.
"Oh you're saying that's the future you see for me?" replied Weidman. "I'm gonna fight you and I'm gonna be like ‘you know what, 185 is tough. Luke is that good. Luke is so good I just can't be a champion here. I have to go to 205.' Is that what you're doing?
"...He's trying to trick himself into believing that that was the real Chris Weidman, that he felt everything that I had and I want him to think that...I went in there to win and I lost. There's no question. Now, was my preparation where it needed to be, was I 100% prepared and was I in a good spot? Not at all."
Weidman has stated several times that going into their last bout he wasn't as prepared as he needed to be which effected his performance on fight night. He also fought with a broken foot which he believes severely hampered his ability. In response Rockhold has maintained that Weidman's injuries didn't effect the outcome of the bout and that he himself was suffering from illness coming into the fight. Rockhold remains supremely confident he will win the rematch, retelling a story of how he has trained in front of Weidman's management.
"[Chris's team] came in, one of their top kickboxers and we sparred their kickboxer, I sparred their kickboxer. And I like to take jabs and I said I sparred their world champion kickboxer right in front of his management, his team. Because I don't have anything to hide. I will show everything I have. I would love for you to study me and try to understand it and try to beat me...And I sparred him right in front of them and I looked back at them and said two rounds. He goes down in two. And that's all I said...You call it cocky shit but it's the truth. Second round Chris. Second round," Rockhold said.
Weidman seemed slightly disdainful of Rockhold's braggadoci but, ever the diplomat merely offered, 'I'm getting my hand raised that night, I'm getting my belt back. And I'm gonna give you a hug. Everything's gonna be good.'
To which Rockhold responded less humbly, 'You're a good fighter but you're just not on my level. I'm about to lap you. I've got a big lead and I'm about to lap you.'
Rockhold and Weidman will rematch for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 199 on June 4th in Inglewood, Calif. You can view the full sit down below.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
USADA. Dana White says Conor McGregor's 'retirement' would have ramifications with USADA.
Yay authoritarianism! Henry Cejudo thinks it is good that the UFC disciplined Conor McGregor.
Don't call it a comeback. Jon Jones believes Conor McGregor's scuffle with UFC brass will help all fighters in the future.
Anderson or bust. Georges St. Pierre says he isn't concerned with the title, if he returns he wants the biggest fight possible.
EXTRA CREDIT READING
The Great Dane. I wrote a breakdown on the technique and career of Martin Kampmann for my series on BloodyElbow.com about the best fighters to have never fought for the title.
Wealth and Privilege. Karim Zidan of BloodyElbow.com reports on Ziyavudin Magomedov, a Russian billionaire who was close to purchasing a stake in the UFC. Magomedov also appears in the Tweets section below, having gifted Khabib Nurmagomedov a car.
Episode 2 of Embedded.
Since I posted DJ, I feel like I have to post Cejudo as well but it is much less fun than watching DJ ice Joe B.
Pretty Tony Pettis breaking down his own fight film is great stuff if you're into technique.
Here is Chael Sonnen going at Tim Kennedy for doing Tim Kennedy things.
A great look at the build up to a title fight the day of.
Tommy has been putting out a lot of content this week.
Ariel Helwani jumped on podcast with David Shoemaker to talk the McGregor situation.
Jordan Breen talking with Felix Biederman about the relationship between MMA and marijuana.
And the Severe MMA boys threw up an emergency pod to talk Conor.
That's just good marketing.
Best looking girl gets to know THE TRUTH about Conor's career! Price: One date. Apply here— Artem Lobov (@RusHammerMMA) April 19, 2016
Conor hasn't retired from the gym it seems.
Werdum's got jokes.
All the jokes.
Russian billionaires. So generous.
По прилету в Москву меня в гости принял Зиявудин Магомедов, поздравил меня и сделал подарок, большое спасибо Зиявудин Гаджиевич и за все что Вы делаете для спорта в целом. Очень приятно. At my arrival to Moscow, I was hosted by Ziyavudin Magomedov, he congratulated me and made this present. Thank you very much Ziyavudin Gadzhievich for everything you doing for this sport. It's a big pleasure.
Tumenov's hand is saying 'good' but his eyes are saying 'no mercy.'
Forgot about trying to fight Khabib real quick, huh?
Piers Morgan with the hottest of takes.
That actually would be a good fight. Too bad Chael ain't in the game anymore.
With this kind of intense preparation, Maia is doomed.
AA just seems like a great dude.
Max Holloway (15-3-0) vs. Ricardo Llamas (16-4-0); UFC 199, June 4.
Dan Henderson (31-14-0) vs. Hector Lombard (34-5-1); UFC 199, June 4.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2012: UFC 145 took place at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. In the main event, Jon Jones defended his light heavyweight championship against former teammate Rashad Evans by unanimous decision.
In an undercard bout, Matt Brown upset Stephen ‘Wonderboy' Thompson via being a more rugged man, winning a unanimous decision.
2007: In one of the most stunning outcomes in UFC history, Gabriel Gonzaga ‘cro-copped' Mirko Cro Cop, knocking him out brutally with a head kick in the main event of UFC 70. The event was held in Manchester, England and featured the first UFC fight in England for British star Michael Bisping, a TKO over Elvis Sinosic.
1994: Bas Rutten tapped out Vernon White with a guillotine at Pancrase: Pancrash! 3 in Osaka, Japan.
1988: UFC veteran Ronny Markes was born.
1984: UFC lightweight Kajan Johnson was born.
Think I missed a spot? Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.