Sean Strickland, Luke Rockhold, UFC 268

Sean Strickland vs Luke Rockhold Added To UFC 268

Former Strikeforce and UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold makes his return to the octagon this Fall.

Many of us have been waiting for this day for some time now, nearly two years to be exact.

We finally have the date of his return aligned, which will be on November 6, 2021, at UFC 268, opposing No. 8 ranked middleweight contender Sean Strickland.

The event is to be headlined by No. 2 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who rematches No. 1 ranked welterweight contender Colby Covington, something else we’ve all been waiting awhile to see.

The co-main event will presumably be a three-round lightweight affair between No. 2 ranked Justin Gaethje and No. 4 ranked Michael Chandler, again, another fight we’ve all wanted since before it was even a possibility.

Both of these men are knockout artists, and they’re both six-time world champions outside the UFC.

Those are the only other two bouts scheduled on the card thus far, but the matchmakers couldn’t be doing it better. These are three stellar match ups!

But, back to our middleweight affair:

Rockhold came over to the UFC with a record of 10-1, being the three-time Strikeforce middleweight champion, having defeated Jacare Souza to claim the title in 2011. Fast forward two years and he was making his debut against the TRT version of Vitor Belfort.

After losing that fight in his promotional debut, Rockhold put together one of the most legendary streaks in middleweight history en route to winning the crown, becoming the first man to submit future champion Michael Bisping (guillotine choke).

He also submitted former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (rear naked choke), before taking the belt from undefeated champion Chris Weidman via fourth-round TKO.

As you see, Rockhold was well on his way to becoming one of, if not the best middleweight in mixed martial arts history. However, in his first title defense, he was knocked out by Bisping in round one, a fight both took on short notice.

Rockhold’s original bout, a rematch with Weidman, was scrapped as Weidman got injured, and Bisping was thrown in there for his first title defense. The champion was far too arrogant going into that fight and it cost him.

Next came a bout against WSOF champ-champ David Branch, who Rockhold finished (TKO) in round two, before being KO’d by Yoel Romero, who missed weight for the bout mind you.

17 months later and Rockhold returns to the octagon, only this time at 205 lbs to face future champion Jan Blachowicz, who also KO’d him…

The former middleweight king hasn’t fought since, where he’s let his record sit at 16-5 since July 6, 2019.

Sean Strickland on the other hand has been as active as can be, going 4-0 in the time since Rockhold’s last fight.

Strickland came to the UFC back in 2014 with a perfect record of 13-0, having become the six-time KOTC middleweight champion prior to signing, and he improved that to 15-0 with two-straight victories in two-and-a-half months upon arrival.

However, Strickland then moved down to welterweight, where he had a 5-3 stint, losing to Santiago Ponzinibbio (UD), Kamaru Usman (UD), and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (KO).

He did beat talents like Alex Garcia (KO), Tom Breese (SD), and Court McGee (UD), as well as Nordine Taleb (UD) in his last fight in the division, but he was sucking too much out of himself to be at his best.

Now that Strickland’s back to middleweight, he’s better than ever and has gone 4-0 in that time, the same amount of time it’s been since Rockhold last fought. That most recent victory comes over Uriah Hall, who he absolutely battered for five rounds, improving his record to 24-3 in the process.

That could go both ways: Conor McGregor returned against Dustin Poirier earlier this year… Since McGregor’s fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov, Poirier had over 60 minutes of time inside the octagon during McGregor’s absence, while McGregor had zero, and it showed in their rematch and trilogies this year.

We all know what happened there.

Then we look at Cory Sandhagen, who faced a returning bantamweight king in TJ Dillashaw. Since Dillashaw’s fight with Henry Cejudo, Sandhagen had gone 5-1 in the same exact time Dillashaw had gone 0-1, but that turned out to go the opposite way.

Many of us were left wondering who Luke Rockhold’s return opponent could be. He said himself he wanted someone that excites him and excites fans, and Sean Strickland has turned out to be it!

Sean Strickland is on a real hot streak right now. Rockhold is one of the best middleweights this sport has ever seen, but he’s gone 1-3 in his last four bouts, losing all three via KO, while just over 80% of Strickland’s striking attack is punches to the head.

That’s an astronomical percentage!

Not to mention, Strickland’s lost one single time via being out-grappled or out-wrestled, and that was by the current welterweight champion. He’s also never lost at 185 lbs before.

That isn’t to say Rockhold can’t do it, he has good wrestling himself and has even better grappling (than Usman), he’s a very high level BJJ black belt, and his ground-and-pound, as well as his top pressure is just crushing.

Rockhold also has incredibly powerful kicks on the feet too, which he may be able to use in order to keep Strickland’s hands at bay. Only time will tell.

This is such an intriguing match up for so many reasons, now we wait a couple months before the event goes down.

Who do you see coming out on top in this epic middleweight encounter?

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