Luke Rockhold is being his usual self. Half arrogant, half air-headed. At least that's how he comes across in his interviews. In the latest "UFC Tonight" episode, Bisping rambles on while Rockhold acts like the cool kid who's being forced to hang out with a dork for a few minutes:
Here's what we know: Rockhold is in full man-beast mode, full of swag and testosterone (the natural kind, of course). Bisping is just happy to finally get his title shot, even if it is against a guy who totally outclassed him in their first fight. (We're not counting the mystery gym match that Bisping probably tells people about four or five times a day).
Rockhold promises the fight won't get out of the first round. Bisping says he fears nothing about Rockhold; that he learned from the first fight and that Rockhold has pillow fists. He's actually right. But it's not Rockhold's fists that Bisping has to worry about.
So how can a guy who was kneed the hell out by Anderson Silva, only get to saved by the bell and and then come back and win a controversial unanimous decision, beat a guy who is widely regarded as the next big thing in MMA?
Easy. Bring a Louisville slugger into the cage. It's your only chance. Better yet, bring a body-sized mirror and set it up in the cage. Maybe, just maybe, Luke will get caught looking himself up for too long, giving Bisping time to land a big right hand, putting Rockhold on dream street.
But if those two options fail, here's a few other ways Bisping can beat Luke Rockhold, and it all starts outside of the cage.
For one, Bisping needs to disarm Rockhold. Right now he's playing right into his frat-boy mentality. Bisping needs to go in the entire other direction in interviews. He needs to become Rockhold's biggest promoter. Bisping just needs to come out and say, "Look, Luke is bigger, stronger and more talented. He's clearly the future of the division. I am lucky to grace his presence. I am going to do my best, but we all know how this is going to end. How can anyone beat the great Luke Rockhold? He's clearly destined to be the greatest fighter of all time."
How do disarm someone who is more talented than you are? Be smarter than they are. Like this:
Once the two are inside the cage, it becomes a fight. What are Rockhold's strengths? Well, he's long and strong and down to get the friction on. So how do you fight a guy like that? You smother him. Bisping needs to stay close enough to Rockhold early to avoid his kicks. He won't have to worry about his punches too much. When the two are in the clinch, Bisping needs to use his Muay Thai and deliver straight up knees to the jaw and stomach. He needs to elbow and grind on Rockhold. From there he needs to spring out, far enough to avoid Rockhold's kicks and then find his next spot to jump in.
Bisping's best chance is to nail his upcoming opponent on the jaw. Rockhold has lost twice in his career, in between surfing the beaches of Santa Cruz and getting kissed on the cheek by Daniel Cormier. Both of those fights were by KO. Bisping needs to introduce his fists to Rockhold's face and pray.
Bisping also needs to watch Rockhold's two fights with Tim Kennedy and Jacare Souza. Now Kennedy is the GOAT when it comes to coming really close to winning big fights and then falling short. He fought Rockhold tough, strong, smart and was competitive with him. Jacare, who probably has the best jiu-jitsu in the middleweight division, also fought Rockhold in a close fight. Rockhold fights different when he respects his opponents. He takes fewer risks. He fights more cautiously.
If there's a blueprint for how to beat Rockhold, here it is:
If Bisping has a prayer of getting out of the first round, much less winning the fight, he'll need to fight snug, early and knee and punch his way to history.
(Image via MMAWeekly.com)