For his 13th professional mixed martial arts bout, Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight contender Luke Rockhold could have walked to the cage to any song in the history of music. In the UFC Fight Night 35 main event on Wednesday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga., Rockhold proved once again that MMA entrance theme musical synergy equals positive in-cage results.
Looking to avoid a two-fight winning streak and throw his name back into the conversation at 185 pounds, Rockhold called upon New Jersey heavy metal band Danzig. Apparently not named after the UFC lightweight with the same surname, Danzig’s “Thirteen” came off the band’s sixth studio album in 1999. The song is a cover of a Johnny Cash song written by Glen Danzig.
“Thirteen” is blues song about bad luck and misery. The cure for misfortune or a potential two-fight losing streak for Rockhold came in the form of body kicks, including one perfectly placed liver kick.
A head banger at heart, Costas Philippou just wants to rock. A little more than a year removed from a five-fight UFC winning streak and a top 10 middleweight ranking, Philippou, like Rockhold, also wanted to avoid dropping back-to-back fights. He turned up the volume to awesome when he walked out to the rebellious 1984 anthem “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister.
In the battle of heavy metal songs on complete opposite ends of the long-haired music spectrum, it was Rockhold who prevailed. The 29-year-old found Philippou’s chin with an early right hook that decked the New York-based middleweight. Midway through the opening round, Rockhold finished Philippou with a pair of kicks to the body, dropping the 34-year-old before he was saved by referee Herb Dean.
On the undercard of UFC Fight Night 35, it was a good idea to select a walkout track that originally appeared on a vinyl record in the 1970s. Fighters that picked walkout songs recorded in the 1970s went 3-1 on the night, with UFC lightweight rookie Beneil Dariush leading the charge. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt out of Kings MMA, Dariush grooved out to the Michael Jackson disco single “Rock With You” off the 1979 studio album “Off the Wall.” Returning lightweight Vinc Pichel went with the 1979 hard rock classic “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, while middleweight Trevor Smith gave a subtle nod to the movie “Reservoir Dogs” with the 1972 song “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel.
The 1980s were a good time for preppy fashion and Saturday morning cartoons, but the music from the decade provided little relief for UFC fighters in the Atlanta suburbs. Songs from John Cougar Mellencamp, Motörhead and “The Karate Kid” Soundtrack were all met with losses inside the Octagon.
Undefeated lightweight Elias Silverio was the exception to the rule, borrowing some 1980s aura given off by the Duran Duran’s “The Wild Boys” -- the song was made famous in MMA circles by Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight Mirko Filipovic -- for his three-round decision win over Isaac Vallie-Flagg. The 27-year-old Silverio pushed fighters picking 1980s songs to a 1-4 mark at UFC Fight Night 35. Silverio is off to a 2-0 start in his UFC career, and the Brazilian is now solely responsible for carrying on “Cro Cop’s” legacy of Duran Duran fandom in MMA.
UFC Fight Night 35 Walkout Songs:Luke Rockhold: Danzig “Thirteen” Satan’s Child (1999)
Costas Philippou: Twisted Sister “I Wanna Rock” Stay Hungry (1984)
T.J. Dillashaw: Red Hot Chili Peppers “Can’t Stop” By the Way (2002)
Mike Easton: B.o.B “Ready” Underground Luxury (2013)
Yoel Romero Palacio: Juan Luis Guerra “Soldado” Para Ti (2004)
Derek Brunson: Maino “Remember My Name” If Tomorrow Comes ... (2009)
John Moraga: Bone Thugs-n-Harmony “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” Creepin on ah Come Up (1994)
Cole Miller: The Raconteurs “Salute Your Solution” Consolers of the Lonely (2008)
Sam Sicilia: Johnny Cash “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” American V A Hundred Highways (2006)
Justin Edwards: Ram Jam “Black Betty” Ram Jam (1977)
Elias Silverio: Duran Duran “The Wild Boys” Arena (1984)
Isaac Vallie-Flagg: Motörhead “Ace of Spades” Ace of Spades (1980)
Trevor Smith: Stealers Wheel “Stuck in the Middle With You” Stealers Wheel (1972)
Brian Houston: Lil Wayne “Blunt Blowin” Tha Carter IV (2011)
Alptekin Ozkilic: 2 Chainz & Wiz Khalifa “We Own It” Fast & Furious 6 Soundtrack (2013)
Vinc Pichel: AC/DC “Highway to Hell” Highway to Hell (1979)
Garett Whiteley: Joe Esposito “You’re the Best Around” “The Karate Kid” Soundtrack (1984)
Beneil Dariush: Michael Jackson “Rock With You” Off the Wall (1979)
Charlie Brenneman: John Cougar Mellencamp “Small Town” Scarecrow (1985)
Tommy Messano is the editor-in-chief of ULTMMA.com. You can contact him on Twitter at @ULTMMA.