LAS VEGAS — Of the six fighters and one president on stage at the UFC 194 news conference Wednesday, middleweight challenger Luke Rockhold was the last to receive a question for which he could offer an answer for the cameras, laptops, tweeters and fans.
That was nearly 30 minutes into the event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
But once Rockhold got into the flow of the media Q&A, his comments were clear and decisive. As were Weidman’s responses.
“There’s always been mutual respect between me and Chris,” Rockhold said. “But this is the world title. This is about taking another man’s food off his plate. He’s got kids to feed. I’ve got a statement to make. This is everything. Everything we worked for our whole lives.”
Weidman and Rockhold, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, fight Saturday night at the MGM Grand as the co-main event. Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor headline the UFC 194 card with their title unification bout.
McGregor and Aldo carried much of the promotion for this pay-per-view card, something that was perfectly fine with Weidman and Rockhold.
“I’m completely fine just worrying about retaining my belt,” said Weidman (13-0, 9-0 UFC).
Weidman, from Baldwin, won the title from Anderson Silva at UFC 162 in July 2013. He since has defended the title successfully three times — the rematch against Silva, then against Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort. All southpaws, same as Rockhold.
“It really doesn’t matter who I’m going against, whether it’s Anderson, Lyoto or Vitor, it’s always a battle against myself,” Weidman said. “If I take control of that, there’s no beating me.”
Rockhold (14-2, 4-1) enters the fight on a four-fight win streak, all by stoppage. He submitted Machida in the second round last April.
“Fighting is about relaxation, it’s about adjustments,” Rockhold said. “Who has the focus? Who can face adversity and work with it and flow with it? I feel I’m the man to do that.
“We both will hit adversity in this fight,” Rockhold continued. “I know how to flow with it, I know how to work with it. Chris is a control freak. When he doesn’t have control, he tenses up and it forces him into a different fight.”
Weidman was offered a chance to respond as the Q&A concluded.
“On Saturday night, I’m going to give this guy a reality check,” Weidman said. “His biggest weakness, I don’t think is something physical. I think it’s in his head. I think it’s his ego and that’s what I’m coming for. I’m just going to give him some reality. I’m going to throw him around the ring. It’s going to be a fun night.”