Things are sure to be intense between Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold when they finally meet at UFC 194 for the middleweight title.
But on a pre-fight week media call, Weidman couldn’t help but laugh off Rockhold, who thinks he’s got the champ all figured out.
“Chris has a lot of holes in his game and he hasn’t fought anybody that’s been able to exploit them until now,” Rockhold said. “I’m not going to sit there and coward down and let him control the ring. I’m going to stop him in the middle of the cage…”
The next few words from Rockhold were inaudible on the call because Weidman couldn’t contain his amusement, breaking in to say, “I can’t wait.”
Rockhold waited for Weidman to finish and then emphatically ended his sentence, “… and then I will finish you.”
The No. 1 contender since his destruction of Lyoto Machida back in April, Rockhold has been oozing confidence in the lead up to his shot at the title. He thinks he has Weidman figured out and he’s been telling anyone who will listen about how he plans to dethrone the man who dethroned the iconic Anderson Silva.
“I’ve been sparring Cain (Velasquez) and (Daniel) Cormier my whole career basically. So I’m very used to bigger and better wrestlers in the UFC and beyond,” Rockhold said. “I’m used to the pressure. Weidman’s gotta think twice if he thinks his wrestling is going to dictate where this fight takes place because I deal with that sh*t every day.”
Weidman, sporting a confidence bolstered by a perfect 13-0 record and wins over some of the sport’s greatest legends, doesn’t doubt for a second that he can beat Rockhold.
But at the same time Weidman respects Rockhold and knows the challenge that lies ahead of him at UFC 194.
“I don’t know if he’s the toughest challenge I’ve ever had. Only on Dec. 12 will we be able to find that out,” Weidman said. “But he’s definitely the toughest test for me at the time. … This fight means everything to me and I take him seriously.”
Rockhold has put together four straight wins to earn his title shot, and the Santa Cruz, Calif. native has done so in impressive fashion, collecting four performance bonuses in the process.
Once the fight begins, Rockhold said things usually go according to his plan. He’s seen his fight with Weidman play out many times, and every time he sees victory.
If things should go off course, Rockhold is ready to adjust and said Weidman better have a backup plan too.
“We’ve all seen with Chris that he gets frustrated when you hit him,” Rockhold said. “When things don’t go his way he sacks up and fights with his balls. Good for him. It’s got him by to a certain point, but it’s about to get him in big trouble.
“He’s got his wrestling game plan, he’s gonna get hit and then he’ll start to strike. He’ll go from A to B, and he better have C and D before he realizes that he’s going to have an F and he’s going to fail.”
Weidman and Rockhold get along when they’re not about to fight for the No. 1 prize in their weight class, so the champ said he expects things to go back to normal after the two finally engage.
But for now, Weidman is going to try and break Rockhold – both mentally and physically.
“I spar with some of my best friends since I got into this sport and it doesn’t slow me down from trying to completely dominate them,” Weidman said. “It’s just competition. I just try to break these guys mentally and physically and that’s what I’m going to do on Dec. 12. It’s nothing personal.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC