Strikeforce: November 3, 2012 Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Middelweight Title Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold (-450) Profile: Luke Rockhold (9-1) is riding a nine-fight winning streak since losing to Tony Rubalcava by TKO during his second Melee on the Mountain event back in 2007. All nine wins have been in Strikeforce, including a first-round TKO of former UFC light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine. Eight of Rockhold’s 10 bouts overall have been decided in the first round, as he has submitted six of his opponents and knocked out two. The 27-year-old Rockhold won the Strikeforce middleweight title with a five-round unanimous decision victory against Ronaldo Souza last September 10. He was originally expected to face Tim Kennedy last year, but a series of injuries kept him from competing for nearly 19 months. When Rockhold finally met Kennedy on July 14, he grinded out a unanimous decision victory to defend his title for the second time. Strikeforce Middleweight Contender Lorenz Larkin (+300) Profile: Few fighters are as flashy as Lorenz “Monsoon” Larkin (13-0, 1 NC). A mixed martial artist who embraces the diversity in his training, Larkin has shown flashes of Kung Fu, kickboxing and amateur boxing in his techniques, and he is a consistently entertaining fighter to watch. As a light heavyweight for his first 12 pro MMA fights, Larkin saw plenty of success with an unbeaten record until he met Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the Strikeforce cage. Lawal pretty much dominated Larkin, flinging him around the cage, running roughshod over his base and knocking him out brutally in the first round. However, that match saw multiple scandals arise, as the referee for the fight was brought under fire for letting Larkin receive unneeded damage after he was out cold, and King Mo later tested positive for banned substances. Some fighters gain a lot out of their first loss, and Larkin saw the writing on the wall. He cut 20 pounds in a move to middleweight and impressed greatly in a unanimous decision win over Robbie Lawler in July 14, earning him a shot at the Strikeforce middleweight title. Opening Strikeforce Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas has made Rockhold a big -450 favorite (bet $450 to win $100) against Larkin, who opened as a +300 underdog (bet $100 to win $300) according to the MMA odds. Many MMA fans thought a rematch with Jacare Souza may be in order following his dominant first-round knockout of Derek Brunson, but Larkin gets the title shot instead after moving down from light heavyweight. Rockhold remains the class of the division though and deserves to be a heavy fave in this spot as he patiently awaits his opportunity to move up to the UFC and fight higher-level opponents. Larkin is certainly capable of a knockout, with eight of his 13 wins ending that way. However, Rockhold has grown tremendously as a fighter since suffering his lone career loss via first-round TKO at the hands of Tony Rubalcava in what will be nearly five years by the time of this championship fight. Larkin was bullied by Lawal before his only setback was overturned, and Rockhold looks to be his most difficult opponent yet since he is clearly in his prime and only getting better.
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