Rockhold’s belief is very reminiscent of the words from the late Rodney Dangerfield, “I get no respect.”
The spotlight just hasn’t shined that brightly on the 27-year-old despite beating former champion Jacare and especially now that he’s defending his title at Saturday’s Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine against Keith Jardine, who is making his debut at middleweight and has gone 2-2-1 in his last five bouts.
Despite being a champion, he is putting his title aside in his own mind so that he remains focused and motivated against his challenger. On Saturday night, Rockhold plans to go right after Jardine to prove his worth as a middleweight champion.
“If you put the title aside and just look at him as an opponent and what he’s done, it’s a good fight,” Rockhold told MMAWeekly Radio.
“He definitely hasn’t earned a spot at 85 for a belt, but at the same respect he’s a tough fighter and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m not underestimating him. He’s a big name and he’s competed with everybody. He’s a fighter, he’s going to come to fight, and I’m going to come right after him. I’m going to meet him right in the middle and I’m going to come and take his head off.”
Jardine may not be the top ranked contender Rockhold was expecting, but he carries a lot more name value than Tim Kennedy and even Jacare after having fought in the UFC.
For Rockhold to start moving into the middleweight conversation with the likes of Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, the Californian has a long road ahead. But by putting on a clinic on Jardine and stopping him in the fight, Rockhold can start grabbing the respect he deserves as Strikeforce middleweight champion.
“It’s sad that it comes down to that with the name value, but you got to go with what works in the sport. That’s what moves you up the ladder is beating the names. I see it as that, but I still see him as a tough opponent.
“I believe I’ve been overlooked and underrated even before and after this title. Beating a guy like Keith Jardine is going to wake a lot of people up and give me some more fans. I’m going to go out there and beat him and beat him like no one else has beat him before.”