MANILA, Philippines – Luke Rockhold cemented his status as the next contender for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title by manhandling Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC on FOX 15 on Sunday, April 19 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The 30-year-old Rockhold had an outstanding performance against Machida, submitting the former light heavyweight champion at 2:31 of the second round with a rear-naked choke.
Apart from the solid hooks that Machida landed early in the bout, it was a lopsided affair in favor of Rockhold, who rocked the 36-year-old Brazilian with a glancing right hand in the first round, bailed on a topside guillotine and then uncorked vicious ground-and-pound blows.
Machida was nearly pounded out at the end of the opening salvo, where Rockhold secured a back mount and refused to give up the position by clobbering punches and elbows that caused an instant swelling on his opponent’s right eye.
“I landed a clean elbow at the end of the first round and saw him wobble to his corner. I knew I had him from there,” Rockhold said in his post-fight interview.
As Machida had nothing left to offer at the start of round two after receiving a couple of straight lefts, Rockhold tossed him back to the floor and then moved to his back to lock the choke for his third-straight submission victory.
Rockhold (14-2) became the third fighter to finish Machida (22-6) in his 12-year professional career.
In addition, the 6-foot-3 American is now riding high on a 4-fight winning streak and has not lost a single match since suffering a first-round knockout setback to Vitor Belfort in May 2013.
Rockhold is expected to face the winner of the middleweight championship clash between current titleholder Chris Weidman and Belfort at UFC 187 on May 23 (May 24 in Manila).
“I’m the best around. I did my part. Weidman, you do your part. I want to take this across the way [to Manhattan]. Madison Square Garden. Let’s make history,” he lauded.
New York is on the verge of legalizing mixed martial arts, and the UFC has expressed its interest in staging a December pay-per-view event in the state. – Rappler.com
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