Luke Rockhold will defend his UFC Middleweight Championship for the first time against the man he took it from, as Chris Weidman will get an immediate rematch at UFC 199 this June. The two men had an entertaining first fight at UFC 194, but a poorly timed spinning back kick from Weidman gave Rockhold the Sportsbook he needed to take control of, and eventually win the bout.
After picking up the victory in their last fight, Rockhold had opened as a -175 favorite with Weidman coming back at +145 at Sportsbook.
The initial meeting between the two fighters saw Rockhold display an excellent array of skills and cardio, with the latter being one of the most important aspects to the victory. Rockhold was able to keep a steady pace in the championship rounds and his transition game allowed him to get full mount on Weidman and deliver an immense amount of damage.
Weidman, who has routinely relied on his wrestling and aggression in the Octagon, was unable to gain any considerable traction in the grappling game. Whenever Weidman would shoot for the takedown he either ran into a sprawl or a guillotine attempt from Rockhold. This forced Weidman to push forward in the striking game, which Rockhold was prepared for and struck several times with a big counter right hook.
Both of these fighters are extremely well versed, but the first fight showed the intelligence and veteran savvy of Rockhold. This is the type of loss that could go a long way towards defining Weidman’s career, as he will either use his first loss as a way to become even better or could find himself directionless in the division.