When Luke Rockhold makes his much-anticipated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut this weekend (May 18, 2013) at UFC on FX 8 in Santa Catarina, Brazil, he will be stepping into the Octagon against one of the most revered athletes in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in Vitor Belfort.
"The Phenom" has been in the hurt business for 17 years now, racking up an impressive resume which includes wins over Rich Franklin, Wanderlei Silva and Randy Couture, just to name a few. And despite being 36 years of age, the heavy-handed Brazilian has proven he still has the physical tools to hang with the best of the best inside the cage.
But, according to Rockhold, the mental aspect of the fight game outweighs the physical part, which is something he believes will play a key role in the fight.
"Fighting is more mental than physical. I've worked hard to get here," said Luke during today's (May 16, 2013) UFC on FX 8 press conference. Something current UFC flyweight contender Ian McCall also alluded to recently, saying Belfort's mindset will be a determining factor as to who will prove victorious in Brazil.
Both Vitor and Luke have gone back and forth with their verbal assaults and the former Strikeforce middleweight champion still stands strong in his stance against Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), saying people like "The Phenom" who have to undergo the controversial treatment are "lacking something."
"I haven't supplemented or taken anything in any way. I have a big heart that will push me," said Rockhold. "People that need the TRT or the extra something are lacking something and it will show in this fight. "
Inferring that the longtime veteran is a cheater, Rockhold -- who is six years younger than Belfort -- refuses to take "anything" to assist him in any way for his fights. Whether or not that stance changes once the years creep up and he has as many fights and years in the fight game as Vitor does, remains to be seen.
For now, it's pure heart that drives the fiery middleweight. "I believe in my heart and my hard work," proclaimed Luke.
And it's the hard work he's put in, not supplemental help, that gives Rockhold the confidence to predict that he will be putting his foe to sleep in front of what is sure to be a fired up Brazilian crowd.