by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s no surprise that Luke Rockhold is going to be featured on this Friday’s Sho MMA: Strikeforce Challenger Series event in Kent, Wash. Long has he been heralded by the promotion’s management as one of their future stars, and for good reason.

Since making his debut in 2007, Rockhold has increasingly moved up against tougher competition, and all but once he has come out on top.

Most recently he toppled Team Quest up-and-comer Buck Meredith in just over four minutes, insuring that he once again had yet to leave the first round in any of his bouts.

Rockhold’s increasing impressiveness has lead to this Friday’s opportunity as he steps in against Cory Devela, who himself is looking to rebound off a loss to Terry Martin this past September, in a bout that could easily steal the evening’s show.

“It definitely feels like I’m moving in the right direction,” Rockhold said to MMAWeekly.com about the path his career is taking with this upcoming match-up.

“I think this is a good fight for me, a perfect opponent, and I’m looking to show everybody what I’ve got and why I’ve been training so hard.”

According to Rockhold, this is a match-up that’s been on his radar for some time.

“I’ve been looking at him for a while,” he stated. “I thought it would be a good next step fight for me, (taking things to) the next level.”

As for what makes Devela the perfect next step, he says it all comes down to how styles make fights.

“He tends to push the pace and attack a lot with a kind of wide-open crazy style – for me that plays right into my game plan,” said Rockhold. “I’m a good defensive striker and I think I’ll handle his unorthodox style well.

“From what I understand, he doesn’t think I have any stand-up at all, so he’s going to get a surprise if he comes in wild, for sure.”

Rockhold says it’s up to him to work his own game to ultimately determine the fight’s outcome.

“As long as I go out there and perform to what I can do, I don’t see him being a problem,” he exclaimed.

“I think it’s going to be an overall good fight, and if he can hold me off on the ground, I’m looking forward to standing with him. Wherever it goes, I’m happy to oblige.”

Rockhold plans on taking some time off after this fight regardless of the outcome, but when he does return to action, a wealth of top-level fighters could be on his radar in the 185-pound weight class, including Benji “Razor” Radach, Nick Diaz, Scott Smith or possibly even Frank Shamrock.

“I’m not scared to get in there with pretty much anybody,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time before I get those fights.

“I train with a lot of the best guys, so I know where I’m at, and I’m not that far away from anybody. I’m looking forward to (taking on) all comers.”

A win this Friday could go a long way towards Rockhold justifying all the belief others are putting into him and make him the next bona fide star to look for on Strikeforce’s horizon.

“I want to thank Inspirit, Santa Cruz Skate & Surf Shop, SCORE Clinic, the American Kickboxing Academy and all my trainers,” he concluded. “Look out fans; it’s going to be a good fight all-around. Expect anything to happen – but I don’t expect it going three rounds – that’s for sure.”