“I’m not so much worried about Chris. We’re just focusing on myself and my attributes, my intangibles that he doesn’t have. He wants my speed, my athleticism, and my overall game. I believe I have more cardio, I have more heart, more will, (I’m) more technical in every aspect of the game.” Rockhold recently told Submission Radio.
The heavy-handed Weidman is a former Division I All-American in wrestling, but that doesn’t concern Rockhold.
“I respect his wrestling. I think he thinks it’s going to play too much of a role. I’m gonna shut down his wrestling. I’m gonna open up every other hole in his game,” said the 31-year-old contender. “I think he’s slow and he’s gotten by on his toughness and his wrestling. I’m gonna be faster, I’m gonna hit him harder, and I’m gonna challenge him in ways he hasn’t (been challenged before). I’m gonna put on a pace that he hasn’t felt before, and I’m not running from the man. Trust me. I’m gonna be hunting this guy down like I hunt every fighter down. I hunt them and then I bait them in. I hunt them and I bait them in. This is going to be no different.”
Rockhold has visualized the fight and played it out in his head countless times. Each time, the ending is always the same.
“With Weidman, I expect him to come forward and push the pace in a kind of similar way (that Lyoto Machida did). I’m gonna find my timing and defend his wrestling and his pressure, and then I’m gonna beat him and put my own pressure on him,” he said.
“Weidman likes to strike quick. I think it might not be the smartest thing for him to come in too quickly in this fight. I can cut an angle and I can counter him. I’m not scared of Weidman. He’s fighting all these guys that are scared of his wrestling and letting him dictate the pace of the fight. I dictate the pace of my fights and no one else.”
Rockhold trains out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., with former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and current light heavyweight titleholder Daniel Cormier. Velasquez is a former NCAA Division I All-American and Cormier competed on the Olympic level in wrestling. Rockhold doesn’t think Weidman’s going to bring anything to the table that he doesn’t see on a daily basis at the gym.
“He’s not going to bring anything that I’m not used to. I’m a much higher level in the wrestling. I know he’s good on the feet, I know he’s good on the ground, but same thing as with Machida on the ground. I have a different level of speed and athleticism and funk, and he’s not going to keep up with me. If he wants to take it to the ground, he’s not going to be able to keep up. It’s the same thing on the feet. I’ve just got those intangibles that he can’t keep up with, whether on the ground or on the feet, and that’s why I plan on exposing every weakness he has,” said Rockhold.
Weidman is coming into the bout as the favorite according to oddsmakers, but Rockhold doesn’t think the fight is going to be close.
“People wanna say this is a close fight. I don’t see it, though. I think Chris is gonna be tough for a round, maybe two. I’m gonna run away with this fight and I’m gonna take the belt home. Another belt coming back to AKA,” Rockhold continued. “Chris is just too slow, he’s too slow, he’s too slow. That’s all I gotta say. He’s slow, slow, and he’s slow.”
Confident in his abilities, Rockhold predicts that he’ll finish the unbeaten Weidman.
“I’m going to shut Chris Weidman down in the first round. I’m gonna expose him in the second round. And I’m gonna finish him with a left kick, followed by a left punch, simultaneously,” he said.
UFC 194 takes place place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 12. The pay-per-view event is headlined by the featherweight unification title bout between champion Jose Aldo and interim titleholder Conor McGregor.