On November 3, in the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold will return to action, taking on up-and-coming striking specialist Lorenz Larkin.
Rockhold currently stands as a favorite in the bout at -450. The American Kickboxing Academy product took the middleweight strap from Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza last year in an instant classic. The San Jose native went on to knock out UFC veteran Keith Jardine in January. In his most recent defense, the surging champion outclassed former US Army sniper Tim Kennedy for 25 minutes en route to a lopsided unanimous decision victory.
Larkin, as of this writing, sits as a light underdog in the bout at +300. “The Monsoon” is 13-0 in his career, with one no contest against “King Mo” Lawal. The bout with the former light heavyweight champion prompted a move to 185 lb. for the Riverside native. The Empire Training Center product ceased the day in his debut, soundly defeating Robbie Lawler via a unanimous decision in July.
The fact of the matter is that while Rockhold is still trapped in the baron wasteland that has become the Strikeforce roster, he belongs in the UFC where he would compete and more than likely do well against the upper-echelon opponents in the middleweight division. The champion is heavily favored for this reason among others.
While Larkin has shown impressive kickboxing ability, look no further than his no contest with “King Mo”. While Lawal’s wrestling credentials are far superior to Rockhold’s, Larkin looked inert on his back and Rockhold has very underrated offensive wrestling, thus he will likely be able to put the striker there.
Although many, specifically Scott Coker, were impressed with Larkin’s striking display against Robbie Lawler, the story of the “Ruthless” one has remained the same throughout his career. Lawler does not check leg kicks, it cost him against Pete Spratt and almost did the same against Melvin Manhoef. The H.I.T. Squad fighter also chooses to remain largely inactive through most fights, looking to land one big punch to put the coffin nails in his opponents. All those factors proved to be his undoing against Larkin. Rockhold is not that kind of fighter.
As it stands, many pundits feel that the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion is on the same level as a Chris Weidman; the future of the 185 lb. division in a post-Anderson Silva world. Rockhold should have the tools to get his hand raised against the challenger, be it by submission or decision.