Luke Rockhold will make the first defence of his Strikeforce middleweight title on Saturday night, but the fighter is the first to admit he was baffled when he was told who he would be fighting in the main event of the show.
Strikeforce opted for former UFC light-heavyweight fighter Keith Jardine to face him despite the fact he’s never fought at 185lbs before and has won just two of his last eight fights.
“I was a little dumbfounded by that one,” Rockhold confesses in an interview with MMAfighting’s Ariel Helwani. “It’s definitely not the first opponent I had in mind.”
Rockhold had been expecting a fight with Tim Kennedy at first, but when he pulled out injured he thought a rematch with the man he had just defeated to claim the belt, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza may be in the works instead.
After having time to reflect on it Rockhold understands why they opted for Jardine – he is a well known fighter after all due to his long run in the UFC – but it’s apparent that it’s not a choice that sits well with him.
“No. It was the last thing I would have thought,” he admits.
Nevertheless, Rockhold is determined not to be complacent as he looks to establish himself as one of Strikeforce’s biggest fighters in 2012.
“I’m not overlooking Keith Jardine. He’s a tough opponent, he’s been in there with some of the best guys in the world, competed and beat them, so I’m fully aware of what’s in front of me and I’ve trained accordingly.”
Check out the full interview below.