WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT LUKE ROCKHOLD
Rockhold is a fantastic kickboxer with a ground game to follow. The 31-year-old has been fighting for Strikeforce since 2008 wherein in 2011 he fought against Souza. That night Rockhold gained the title of becoming the middleweight Champion in a five-round bout. He held onto the belt all the way through into his debut with the UFC in 2013.
He fought against Viktor "The Phenom" Belfort (25-12) at UFC On Fox 8 where he lost that fight in the first round to a KO.
He came back strong by going on a 5 fight win streak the which ended with Luke winning the middleweight championship belt. Rockhold KO'd Chris Weidman (13-1) in the 4th round (and ohhhh it was glorious) giving Weidman his first loss on his pro record.
That was a really good moment for the Santa Cruz native.
UFC 199: Bisping vs Rockhold 2 in early June is where things had changed. It was a very shocking bout to watch as everyone was rooting for Rockhold and he got KO'd in the first round with 1:23 left in the first round.
The world did seem to stop for a second because of the sound of Bruce Buffer shouting "AND NEW" there was a new middleweight Champion.
A week after losing the middleweight title belt Luke also lost his Father, Steve. After taking some time away from the spotlight to mourn he always kept up with his training. We'll be seeing him fight for the first time since that loss early this year as the #1 ranked middleweight contender.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JACARE SOUZA
Souza had it a little rough while growing up in Brazil. He experienced a traumatic event where his friend was shot to death when he just 15 years old. From moving with his Mother she decided to put him into training at 17 so he would learn how to take care of himself in a way.
His judo is superb as he holds 5 World Jui-Jitsu World Championships titles.
Sometimes I feel "Jacare" being called a submission artist is quite the understatement for his skillset on the ground. The Brazilian has a GREAT amount of MMA experience before landing himself in Strikeforce where he became the middleweight Champion by getting his arm raised after his bout with Ted Kennedy (18-5).
During that time in late 2010, he even beat former welterweight Champion, Robbie "Ruthless" Lawler (27-11).
After losing that middleweight belt against Rockhold, Souza gained an impressive 8 fight win streak through the UFC.
His most recent loss was against Yoel Romero (11-1) at UFC 194: Aldo vs McGregor December 2015. "Jacare" made his way back by defeating Viktor "The Phenom" Belfort (25-12) at UFC 198: Werdum vs Miocic.
NOW we get to see him back during this famous rematch against Rockhold.
SO WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT ALL OF THIS??
I am sure even though seven years have passed the feeling of redemption hasn't gone away This rematch is perfect on so many levels and will set a good tone in the middleweight division. The history between the 2 goes a long way.
You can watch their first fight in Strikeforce HERE.
Even though Rockhold is an amazing kickboxer, he knows how to knock people out with his fists. He also has wrestling and BJJ experience but not on the caliber as Souza. If this fight is left standing it could get interesting even though Souza could easily take this fight to the ground.
Luke has great ground defense and Souza can also keep it standing also, but Luke is more experienced in that area.
There are so many ways this fight can go and that is what makes it exciting. With the vision of Luke getting TKO'd but Bisping is hard to take out of my head because I can't help but compare it to Souza's most recent win and how spectacular he looked in that fight.
I really thought "Jacare" was going to fight Rockhold during his first title defense, yet Luke fought Bisping instead.
But fast forward to the present time, the winner will set the tone and after Bisping fights Dan "Hendo" Henderson (32-14) at UFC 204 I believe the winner in November will without a doubt be able to fight the middleweight Champion for that belt.
November can't come soon enough.