Luke Rockhold is the only middleweight who can beat Israel Adesanya.
That’s according to recent comments the former champion made to MMA Junkie as he prepares for his Octagon return at UFC 278, a three-round banger opposite former title challenger Paulo Costa on Aug. 20 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I think Izzy’s a great champion. I think he’s a good character. I like Izzy – I’m not going to lie. I want to fight him, for sure,” Rockhold said. “I think he wins this fight. I mean, Jared Cannonier throws hard. He could hit a leg in the wrong spot – you never know – or land something wild. But I think Izzy’s range and his dynamicness is going to be too much. Jared can try to take him down, but he doesn’t have enough solid top game to hold him. I think I’m the only one that can beat Izzy. Employ the right tactics, and I’ve got that fight.”
Adesanya (22-1) will defend his middleweight title against former heavyweight Jared Cannonier in the upcoming UFC 276 pay-per-view (PPV) main event this Sat. night (July 2, 2022) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The winner is expected to battle either Sean Strickland or Alex Pereira, depending on how their 185-pound contender fight plays out this weekend in “Sin City.” But that doesn’t mean “The Last Stylebender” is opposed to facing Rockhold later this year.
Under one condition.
“Costa, depends how (Rockhold) beats him,” Adesanya said during the UFC 276 media day (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “But yeah, he’s getting on so I’d like to get that under my belt, as well. When is the last time he fought? You can’t just fight Costa. You’ve got to do something more. Show me something. Like I said, depends on how he beats Costa. I just want to kill all these guys, all these names, and Rockhold’s definitely one of those names that can be on that list.”
It’s been a long time since the middleweight division was this competitive.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 276 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
For the rest of the UFC 276 fight card and PPV lineup click here. To check out the latest and greatest UFC 276: “Adesanya vs. Cannonier” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.