Luke Rockhold comfortably outpointed Tim Kennedy tonight in Portland, Oregon to retain his Strikeforce middleweight title.
The first round of this title fight was a tale of two halves. Initially it was Rockhold who was imposing his will, getting the better of the striking exchanges and initiating a couple of clinches, pressing Kennedy up against the cage.
Around two minutes in Rockhold unleashed a flurry of aggressive strikes that forced Kennedy to bid a hasty retreat. Rockhold chased after him with a wild strike that hit thin-air.
At this moment Kennedy decided he’d had enough of this striking battle and he swooped for a takedown and dumped Rockhold to the mat with two minutes of the round left.
Kennedy was then able to control the rest of the round from top control, though he had to fend off a kimura attempt from Rockhold.
Rockhold returned the favor early in the second round when he caught Kennedy with a head kick and then got him to the mat, seizing his back. He was fishing for a rear-naked choke, but Kennedy was able to defend it and before long worked his way back to his feet.
The champion spent the rest of the round stalking Kennedy and getting the better of the striking exchanges, with the challenger seeming content to fight on the back foot, perhaps looking to counter though he’s not been particularly successful in that regard thus far.
The third started out in much the same way, and while there wasn’t too many meaningful strikes being landed aside from a hard right hook from Rockhold, but in general it seemed to favor Rockhold more than Kennedy since he was the one pressing the action.
However, Kennedy did then switch things up mid-way through the round by ducking under a combo and securing a takedown and gets the champion’s back. Rockhold was not making it easy for him though and despite Kennedy’s best efforts he can’t keep him down for good and Rockhold eventually gets his feet under him and out of danger.
Rockhold continued to control the center of the Octagon in the stand-up action in the fourth round and it looked like Kennedy was just having a tough time dealing with his height and reach as there’s a notable size difference between them.
That left him continuing to tryt to get this fight to the mat, but Rockhold comfortably stuffed his attempt to do so.
The Champion’s pressing action finally paid off when he landed a hard right hook that sent Kennedy to the mat. He’s ok though and gets his back up against the cage. As Rockhold looks to plant him firmly on the mat Kennedy counters with a guillotine and that forces Rockhold to break away.
They get back into the clinch though against the cage and as they jockey for position Kennedy attempts to take Rockhold’s back, but a slick maneouver by the champion, going to his knees and then spinning around, results in him ending up on top as the bell sounds.
So it’s down to the final round now and Kennedy needs to do something big, but he’s still trying to get the fight to the floor and finding his attempts thwarted by Rockhold, and is even briefly put on the mat himself at one point.
Rockhold’s still coming off better in the striking exchanges and with not a lot coming back from Kennedy who seems to be out of ideas, this one’s going to the judges.
In the end the scorecards clearly reflect Rockhold’s firm grip of this contest as he wins unanimously, dropping just one round in the eyes of the three judges at cageside (49-46 x3).