Luke Rockhold told anyone that would listen that he was ready to become UFC champion at the expense of Chris Weidman.
And he did just that Saturday night at UFC 194, leaving the previously unbeaten Weidman a bloody mess and leaving Las Vegas with the middleweight title.
Rockhold (16-2) won his fifth consecutive fight – all via finish – and added UFC gold to his Strikeforce title he won while competing for that promotion.
“Indescribable,” Rockhold said. “Are you kidding me? I just won the title? This is a joke.
“I don’t even know…I can’t believe this is real right now.”
With the finish, Rockhold put his name atop the 185-pound list for stoppage victories in the UFC/Strikeforce era. But none of them were as important as this one.
After catching a wheel kick in the third round from Weidman, Rockhold took the former college wrestler to the ground. Several minutes of ground-and-pound later left Weidman in a bloody mess, but things continued to the fourth.
It was all Rockhold again, as the AKA-trained fighter dominated and claimed the belt to go alongside Daniel Cormier’s UFC light heavyweight crown for the San Jose-based gym.
“He shouldn’t be trying that stuff on me,” Rockhold said of the kick. “I am at a different level on top control.”
Despite the performance, Rockhold admitted he was on antibiotics for two weeks after developing a Staph infection. He also said there was “stuff that happened” that we wouldn’t believe during his training camp.
“But all I care about is that I got the belt,” he said. “I got the ‘W’ and ‘the new.'”
Rockhold finished 161 of 229 and landed two takedowns, compared to 62 of 92 from Weidman, who did have three successful takedowns. Of Rockhold’s strikes, 126 were significant ones.