Luke Rockhold will make his opening bow in the light-heavyweight division against the proven top contender Jan Blachowicz on the UFC 239 main-card.
Luke Rockhold’s place within the eyes of the general fanbase of the sport is one that caused many to severely underestimate how just how incredibly talented he is.
During his run as champion of the Strikeforce middleweight division and into his time in the UFC, Rockhold was nothing short of sensational for the most part – besting Jacare Souza, Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, and Tim Kennedy among others.
In my view, he would be among the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet still if it weren’t for two critical flaws in his game – his shaky striking defence and, of course, his ability to take a shot.
As a huge middleweight, though, you never know how well this move to 205lbs could suit him.
After taking close to a year-and-a-half off since his UFC 221 defeat to Yoel Romero, who knows how well the former champ’s chin will be able to hold up without that strenuous weight-cut.
The man who will be looking to test out the durability of Rockhold’s jaw will be one of the light-heavyweight division’s most underrated talented, Jan Blachowicz.
Blachowicz has been quietly hanging around the upper half of the division for the last few years and prior to losing out to title-challenger Thiago Santos last time around, he was riding a highly-impressive four-fight win-streak.
Jan is pretty solid no matter where the fight goes and to be honest, there are no questions over what he is going to bring to the octagon on Saturday night.
I believe that this fight will depend entirely on Rockhold and how this move and the time off have suited him.
We know that Luke’s kicks are incredibly fast and powerful and once things hit the mat, his top game is among the best in the sport. He displayed this best in his victories over Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida, wins that saw him glide effortlessly in either mount or on the back while hammering down with strikes.
The question here lies primarily in whether Blachowicz can spark him or not – otherwise I can see Rockhold having a field day here and to be honest, I just don’t see Jan having that type of power and overall I’m happy to see that Rockhold decided to take that time off and leave 185lbs behind him.
Expect to be reminded of just how good this guy is as he establishes himself as the newest contender at 205lbs.
Prediction: Luke Rockhold by unanimous decision
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena