LAS VEGAS – The Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Ore will host STRIKEFORCE® when it returns to the Pacific Northwest with STRIKEFORCE®: ROCKHOLD vs. KENNEDY announced for Saturday, July 14.Current STRIKEFORCE middleweight champ Luke Rockhold will meet U.S. Army Green Beret and number one contender Tim Kennedy for a five-round bout live on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
The fight card will also feature a match for the vacant welterweight title when undefeated Tyron Woodley takes on perennial top contender Nate Marquardt. Additionally, two middleweight bouts are expected to round out the main card with veteran Keith Jardine set to take on submission specialist Roger Gracie and renowned strikerRobbie Lawler scheduled to battle Kung Fu sensation Lorenz Larkin.
“The Pacific Northwest is home to great MMA fans and we’re excited to bring an incredible event to Portland this July,” said STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker. “With Luke Rockhold versus Tim Kennedy for the middleweight title and undefeated Tyron Woodley against Nate Marquardt for the vacant welterweight crown, there’s no doubt that we’re bringing something special to the Rose Garden Arena. Having Keith Jardine, Robbie Lawler and Roger Gracie also on the card makes this one of the most stacked cards of the summer!”
Looking to make his second successful title defense since winning the STRIKEFORCE middleweight championship from Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in late 2011, American Kickboxing Academy’s Luke Rockhold (fighting out of San Jose, Calif.) returns to make a statement in the evening’s main event in Portland, Ore. on July 14. The son of a professional basketball player and the brother of a professional surfer, Rockhold has also found his niche in the sports world and has looked incredibly dominant just a few years into his 9-1 pro MMA career. Following a recent TKO victory over UFC veteran Keith Jardine, the Santa Cruz native has managed to collect eight straight wins under the STRIKEFORCE banner and hopes to continue his reign over the middleweight division.
U.S. Army Green Beret Tim Kennedy (fighting out of Austin, Texas) got his start in professional fighting while he was attending college in Missouri prior to enlisting in the military. Originally from San Luis Obispo, Calif., where he trained alongside Chuck Liddell and Jake Shields, Kennedy amassed an impressive amateur record, though it was in the service where he continued to train and dedicate himself in becoming a complete mixed marital artist, ultimately winning several Combatives tournaments by defeating his fellow servicemen in officially recognized hand-to-hand combat matches. At 14-3, Kennedy now holds notable wins over Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Robbie Lawler and Trevor Prangley, and looks to add Rockhold’s name to that list in his attempt to win the title.
One of the top young welterweights in all of MMA, Tyron Woodley (fighting out of St. Louis, Mo.) gets his shot at proving he is one of the sport’s best while claiming his division’s top prize. The former University of Missouri wrestling standout has firmly established himself in the Strikeforce cage, and an undefeated 10-0 record fully supports that claim. “The Chosen One” has earned hard-fought victories over Paul Daley, Tarec Saffiedine and Jordan Mein in his bid to fight for the title. And though his world-class wrestling is his strong suit, his well-rounded game has allowed to him to secure five finishes by submission, including a victory via brabo choke in his very first STRIKEFORCE fight.
A former UFC title challenger, the 34-10-2 Nate Marquardt (fighting out of Denver, Co.) is looking to pick up where he left off by consistently battling the toughest opponents out there and reminding everyone why he is widely considered a divisional top ten fighter. Having earned victories over elite fighters like Demian Maia, Rousimar Palhares, Martin Kampmann, Jeremy Horn and Dan Miller, “The Great” has battled against the best and wants to put gold around his waist to prove he belongs. As a second degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Marquardt can rely on his submission skills to test Woodley if the fight heads to the ground. Meanwhile, his wars with Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen only add to the MMA veteran’s superior experience level.
Keith Jardine (fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) is widely considered one of the toughest and most unorthodox fighters that the sport has ever seen. “The Dean of Mean,” who trains at Greg Jackson’s MMA, is a 16-11-2 UFC veteran holding wins over Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin and Brandon Vera. Though he’s had some recent tough battles with Gegard Mousasi and Luke Rockhold, The Ultimate Fighter® season 2 contestant is ready to get back in the win column with his crowd-pleasing style. He’ll get his chance on July 14 against the 4-1 submission expert and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Roger Gracie (fighting out of London, England). A member of the famed Gracie family, Roger had submitted all his previous opponents, which included Trevor Prangley and Kevin Randleman, before suffering a recent loss to “King” Mo Lawal. Expect fireworks when these two fighters meet in a true test of striker vs. grappler.
With some of the heaviest hands in the sport, dauntless striker Robbie Lawler (fighting out of Gilbert, Ariz.)returns to the cage in search of another high-profile knockout. Following a quick TKO win over Adlan Amagov in January, “Ruthless” has improved his overall record to 19-8, 1 NC. Though a wrestler by trade under the tutelage of former UFC champions Matt Hughes and Pat Miletich, Lawler is widely known to abandon the discipline once the cage door shuts in order to rely solely on his striking ability to finish his opponent. He’ll have his work cut out for him when he takes on fellow striker Lorenz Larkin (fighting out of Riverside, Calif.). Making his debut at middleweight, “The Monsoon” remains undefeated at 12-0, 1 NC and aims to keep it that way against the wily veteran. A former amateur boxer and a current practitioner of Kung Fu, Larkin has the tools to stand and trade in what should be an incredibly explosive bout.