Luke Rockhold: I think I can hurt Lyoto Machida on the feet and finish him on the ground

The main event of Saturday’s UFC on FOX 15 will likely determined the next title challenger in the middleweight division as former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold will look for his fourth straight win as he meets former UFC champion Lyoto Machida.UFC on FOX 15

Rockhold (13-2) is coming off a submission victory against Michael Bisping in the main event of UFC Fight Night 55 this past November and he has won his last three fights by stoppage. He has won a fight night bonus in those three wins and he believes Machida is an upgraded version of Bisping.

“It’s tough to say because Lyoto is so different than other guys,” Rockhold said during a media scrum on Wednesday. “Everyone shares certain qualities. He is primarily a stand up guy. He’s got a good ground game and decent wrestling. Very upgraded version of Michael Bisping, I guess. I see this fight going very similar to Bisping. Both tougher and a little harder to find that opening and kill shot. I think I can hurt him on the feet and finish him on the ground.”

Machida (22-5) will be looking for his second straight win in this bout as he is coming off a TKO victory against C.B. Dollaway at UFC Fight Night 58 in December. Everyone knows that Machida has a style like no one else for the most part, but Rockhold knows that putting the pressure on Machida will be key in this fight.

“Shogun, Weidman, Jon Jones — all the guys that were able to implement the pressure and bully him, making him fear certain things. Even Rampage had some success,” Rockhold explained. “And if you make him fear something, it shuts down a lot of his game. That’s the thing. Making him fear my striking, couple of the strikes I have and hurting him, cutting angles. He is very good if you let him control the pace and let get his range. It’s about pressure, keeping angles, and keeping him guessing.”

Just like any fighter heading into a fight, Rockhold is confident that he will walk away with the victory. He is current the favorite in the fight (-160) and believes he can shut down Machida on Saturday night.

“I really believe I can go out there and shut him down, and his game plan, and corner him and make him fight my fight. Lyoto’s dangerous if you allow him to fight his fight. It’s not his fight. This is my fight. I am going to go out there and push the pace and I have a lot of different attacks he is going to have to worry about.”

While the UFC has not officially come out and said the winner of this fight is getting the title shot, everyone figures this is a number one contender fight. Rockhold believes he is fighting for a title shot and called this fight his “golden ticket.”

“I think we are the best guys in the division other than the champion,” he said. “This is my golden ticket. I’ve got to go out there and perform and take my title shot.”