Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy July 14, 2012 at Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold (-285) Profile: Luke Rockhold (9-1) is riding an eight-fight winning streak since losing to Tony Rubalcava by TKO during his second Melee on the Mountain event back in 2007. All eight wins have been in Strikeforce, including a first-round TKO of former UFC light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine. Eight of Rockhold’s nine 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 “Jacare” 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. Strikeforce #1 Middleweight Contender Tim Kennedy (+215) Profile: Tim Kennedy (14-3) has won six of his last seven fights, with the lone loss coming against Souza for the vacant Strikeforce middleweight championship on August 21, 2010. He was on the wrong end of a unanimous decision against Souza, who eventually lost the title to his current opponent Luke Rockhold a year later. Since that loss, the 32-year-old Kennedy defeated Melvin Manhoef by rear-naked choke submission last March 5 and followed that win up with a unanimous decision victory against Robbie Lawlor nearly five months later. He has served in the United States Army simultaneously while fighting in the past and signed on with Strikeforce in 2009. Opening Strikeforce Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Rockhold a solid -285 favorite (bet $285 to win $100) while Kennedy opened as a +215 underdog (bet $100 to win $215) according to the MMA odds. This is a matchup that was supposed to happen last year, but Rockhold was forced to pull out of the fight that was originally supposed to pit Kennedy against Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Kennedy beat Rockhold’s replacement Manhoef and has not fought since, although he is expected to be in excellent shape considering his Army training background. Rockhold is No. 10 in the MMAOB MMA Fighter Rankings and did not get much of a challenge from Jardine in his last bout. Kennedy is a much different opponent though and should test his will over the course of a five-round fight. Like many MMA bettors who have backed him during his career, Rockhold believes he is ready to make the jump to the UFC and could eventually pose a threat to middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Time will tell, but he must stay focused and take care of Kennedy first.