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Mike Perry and Luke Rockhold are set to share the cage at BKFC 41 this weekend. For the former UFC middleweight champion, this fight will mark his boxing debut. It also marks another stage in a long and unsettled series of late-career moves for the noted AKA talent and current Henri Hooft trained fighter.
Now 38-years-old, Rockhold is clearly no longer the competitor he once was when he captured the Strikeforce middleweight title and then went on a five-fight unbeaten streak in the Octagon—following a shocking KO loss to Vitor Belfort in his UFC debut—to capture gold there as well. He’s been plagued by recurring injuries, dogged by durability issues, lost a step or two of speed. More than any of that, though, the confidence and fire that marked his biggest successes seems to have been difficult to find.
That’s likely largely due to two brutal knockout losses at the hands of Michael Bisping and Yoel Romero, the latter of which, coupled with a nasty shin injury, pushed Rockhold out of competition for more than a year. When he returned—at light heavyweight against Jan Blachowicz in 2019—he looked nowhere near the dynamic, hard-nosed competitor he had once been. A short-lived retirement seemed to recapture some of that fire for his 2022 bout against Paulo Costa, but along with time and wear, it wasn’t enough to see Rockhold on his way to victory.
Luke Rockhold making boxing debut
Now out of the UFC, and looking to make his mark on the free agent combat sports market, Rockhold has landed with BKFC to try his hand in a whole new sport: Bare Knuckle Boxing. His opponent? Another familiar face to MMA fans, former UFC welterweight action-fight talent Mike Perry.
Having left the world’s largest MMA promotion behind in 2021, Perry was an instant fit in the increasingly common crossover world to boxing and bare-knuckle fighting. He’s currently 2-0 in the BKFC ring, with victories over Julian Lane of “Let me bang, bro!” TUF fame, and feature Bellator attraction Michael ‘Venom’ Page. Mike Perry and Luke Rockhold are set to clash this Saturday at BKFC 41 in Broomfield, CO.
Mike Perry and Luke Rockhold exchange barbs
Ahead of their fight, they got on a chance to do a little verbal sparring in a video conference call hosted by the MMA Hour. That’s where Rockhold revealed what he believes will be his big edge over his opponent.
“Mike, I know who you are,” Rockhold said, while speaking of his own enigma (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I’ve seen who you are and everyone knows what you bring to the table. You’ve been doing your thing for a while. You’ve been boxing. Yeah, it’s apparent you can box. You’re a little f dog and you like to come forward. No one’s ever seen me box. No one’s ever seen me isolated in this spectrum and no one’s ever seen me move like this. You don’t know what to expect. I know what to expect.”
Perry, for his part, was not all that impressed by the idea that BJJ black belt might be bringing something special to the table as a boxer.
“It’s a left or a right, it’s not that confusing,” Perry responded. “It’s a left or a right hand, footwork, some head movement. You’re southpaw, I’m orthodox. You’re rangy, I’m an inside fighter. It’s not that confusing. But it will be when I’m out there in front of you. I’m better than everybody who trained with. Every boxer you trained with for this, I’m better than them.”
Despite Perry’s insistence that he’s got Rockhold’s number, the California native is confident he’ll be able to outsmart his opponent in the ring.
“I feel like people are underestimating me like they always do,” Rockhold added, speaking of his game. “Mike’s in this game, he’s done his thing. I’ve handicapped myself. He’s moving up. It’s a perfect f-cking storm. We’re going to fight. He’s coming forward and I’m going to f-cking [outsmart] him all over that f-cking ring. That’s all he’s got. He’s going to come forward swinging for the fences, I’m going to f-cking stick, I’m going to move, I’m going to crack, I’m going to come forward, I’m going to back up. I’m going to do everything. I’m going to do it.”
“That’s not how I fight, man,” Perry responded. “I don’t f-cking swing for the fences. I’m pretty calculated.”
BKFC 41 goes down on April 29th at the 1stBank Center and airs live on iPPV. Here’s a look at the full fight card:
BKFC 41 fight card
- Mike Perry vs. Luke Rockhold
- Eddie Alvarez vs. Chad Mendes
- Bec Rawlings vs. Christine Ferea
- Chris Camozzi vs. Dan Spohn
- Brandon Girtz vs. Christian Torres
- Jessie Stadler vs. Roderick Stewart
- Matthew Maestas vs. Dillion Winemiller
- Mike Alvarado vs. James Brown
- Ben Rothwell vs. Josh Copeland
- Mitch Seybold vs. Jack Willoughby
- BJ Lawrence vs. Wayna Reid
- Marcus Edwards vs. Jay Jackson
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