Costas Philippou has never been stopped, but Luke Rockhold likes his chances of becoming the first to do it when they fight Jan. 15 in the UFC Fight Night 35 main event.
“He hasn’t been stopped up until the 15th,” Rockhold told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I feel good. I feel like I’m very capable of stopping him in five rounds. The guy’s never been five rounds. It’s a five-round fight. It’s a main event, and we’ll see how he takes the pressure. I’m used to these five-round main events. This is my fourth main event in a row. It’s my fifth five-round fight in a row. I know how to train and I know how to fight in them.”
Rockhold has gone the full 25 minutes twice, winning both times. In September 2011 he outpointed Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and in July 2012 he won a unanimous decision over Tim Kennedy. His only loss as a headliner came last May when Vitor Belfort knocked him out with a spinning head kick and punches.
“I guarantee that won’t happen again,” Rockhold said. “A good couple performances and I could definitely put myself in the mix, and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.”
Philippou is also coming off a loss, having dropped a unanimous decision to Francis Carmont in September. Before that defeat, though, the Serra-Longo product had won five straight in the UFC.
“Costas is a good boxer,” Rockhold said. “He’s a traditional, kind of just New-York-style brawler-boxer -- sharp, throws a lot of right hands and left hooks. Obviously I’ve got to look out for that. I just try to go with the better boxers in the gym and obviously orthodox guys and I work on his strengths, but people tend to forget that I’m a black belt in jiu-jitsu and what got me to the top was my wrestling and my jiu-jitsu. … I’ve always had this funky style of jiu-jitsu. It’s kind of wrestling and jiu-jitsu mixed, and I feel like I’m one of the best in the world at what I do in that realm. Don’t sleep on my ground game in this fight. I actually think I can outstrike Costas and I might just do that, but I think the huge advantage for me in this fight is on the ground and my wrestling, and I might use it if I have to.”
After debuting in the UFC with a knockout loss to Belfort, Rockhold believes his middleweight matchup with Philippou provides an opportunity to prove his status in the 185-pound division. If he has to wrestle to do that, then fine, but he also thinks his kicks could be a big factor in the fight.
“Costas is an orthodox fighter,” Rockhold said. “I’m a southpaw, so there’s a lot of openings for my kicks. His liver’s right there -- a straight line to his liver and his head. You can definitely guarantee there’s going to be some hard kicks coming for him, and if he blocks it, I’m going to try to just break his arm, kick right through it.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 35:42).