Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold has not lost in over five years. The 10-1 fighter didn’t even get to see what the second round looked like until his ninth fight. That fight was against Ronaldo Souza for the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship. It would seem athleticism is embedded in Luke Rockhold’s DNA. The professional fighter is the child of a former European leagues professional basketball player and the brother of a professional surfer. At the early age of six, Rockhold embarked on his martial arts journey studying judo for four years before quitting at the age of ten. A few years later, in the seventh grade, Rockhold began competitive wrestling at the middle school-level and continued through his high school graduation.
Whilst on the wrestling team, Rockhold also took jiu-jitsu classes at a local academy. After his high school graduation, he tried wrestling for a local community college but found his passion burned brighter for BJJ than JUCO wrestling. His successes at blue belt and purple belt lead him to try mixed martial arts. He started training at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, C.A., and he never looked back.
He took his first professional fight at Melee on the Mountain, where he defeated Mike Martinez via armbar less than three minutes into the first round. Rockhold’s second fight, three months later, yielded his first and only defeat. Tony Rubalcava TKO’ed Luke at two minutes, 46 seconds of Round 1. Three months later, the 1-1 Rockhold made his Strikeforce debut.
At Strikeforce: “Young Guns II”, Rockhold forced his opponent Josh Neal to tap to strikes within two minutes of the opening bell. Rockhold then put together a four-fight string of first-round rear naked choke finishes, tapping Nik Theotikos, Buck Meredith, Cory Devala and Jesse Taylor. Rockhold broke his RNC streak with a TKO victory over Paul Bradley at Strikeforce Challengers: “Kaufman vs. Hashi”.
At 7-1, Rockhold was poised for bigger name fights with the likes of Matt Lindland and Tim Kennedy, but a series of training injuries kept him out of the cage. After a year and a half hiatus, Rockhold returned to the Strikeforce promotion opposite their middleweight champion, “Jacare”. Rockhold went on to win the belt via unanimous decision. He defended his championship strap twice – once with a first-round TKO stoppage over UFC veteran Keith Jardine, and then again against his earlier would-be opponent, Tim Kennedy. Going the five-round championship distance for the second time in his career, Rockhold defeated Kennedy by unanimous decision.
Following the purchase of Strikeforce by Zuffa and the absorption of the middleweight division into the UFC, Rockhold will make his promotional debut against Vitor Belfort in Brazil on May 18, 2013 at UFC on FX 8. The two fighters’ records combine for a total of 23 first-round finishes. When the bell rings, don’t blink.
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