There was a time a few months ago when Luke Rockhold dreamed of making a trip to New York for the biggest fight of his life against UFC middleweight champion and Long Island native Chris Weidman.
"There was nothing I wanted more than to fight at Madison Square Garden against Weidman," Rockhold said Saturday during a fan meet-and-greet at the grand opening of Unique Fitness in Shirley. "It would have been an awesome first main event in New York. Madison Square Garden is where the legends have fought -- Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tyson -- that's the spot."
The bright lights of Manhattan will have to wait as professional MMA events have not been legalized in New York. But Rockhold, still on tap to fight Weidman later this year at a to be determined event, is riding a four-fight win streak and is confident it's only a matter of time before he's the champion at 185 pounds.
"Weidman is tough and I'll give him a little offensive wrestling advantage over me," Rockhold said. "But wrestling is going to be a means to nowhere for him. He's going to put himself in a worse situation if he wants to take me down . . . I think I'm faster, have more weapons, more finesse and I'm more technical."
Tempers flared slightly last week when Rockhold and American Kickboxing Academy teammate and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier got into a dispute with Weidman on Twitter, though Rockhold doesn't see emotions rising during the fight.
"He's the champ and I'll do my thing when it's the time," Rockhold said. "I don't think emotion is going to play into it; we're both professionals and we both want to be the man. Weidman is a good guy but we've known we would fight for many, many, years and the time is now and it's time to start building it. We both think we're going to win and think we're invincible. It's time to find out who is better and I believe I'm the man."