For much of the fight, Rockhold backed Kennedy up with strikes and stuffed the majority of his takedowns en route to winning a unanimous decision.
Round one saw Rockhold hurt Kennedy with a right hand and then back him into the fence, but couldn’t do much with the position. From there, Kennedy was able to get away from the fence and scored a takedown. Rockhold attempted a Kimura before moving to side control, but neither could find any decisive offense.
Rockhold scored with a front kick early in round two, while Kennedy looked to shoot. Rockhold countered a Kennedy takedown attempt, and took his back briefly. Returning to their feet, Rockhold was able to pressure the former Green Beret with an array of head and body kicks for the remainder of the round.
In round three, Rockhold backed Kennedy up with strikes to the body for much of the round. As the round wore on, Kennedy scored and managed to take Rockhold’s back, but only momentarily.
The champion devastated Kennedy in the fourth round when he landed a hard right hook that dropped him. Rockhold swarmed, but Kennedy threatened with a guillotine to get back to his feet. At the end of the round, Kennedy tried to take Rockhold’s back, but Rockhold countered and wound up in side control.
The final round was all about Rockhold’s continued success in counter grappling. Kennedy attempted several takedowns, but couldn’t score any of them, while Rockhold managed to get a takedown of his own.
All three judges score the fight 49-46 in favor of Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.
“Everything I’ve gone through in life hasn’t been easy and it shows,” Rockhold said post-fight. “In five-round wars, those suck, but hard work pays off. I controlled the pace. I think I stopped him most of the time, made him back up and I defended all takedowns for the most part. I’ve finally gotten some takedowns of my own.”
With the win over Tim Kennedy, Rockhold now holds two successful title defenses since dethroning then Strikeforce champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in 2011.