Luke Rockhold, the Strikeforce champ who sees childish pleasure in Jiu-Jitsu

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Strikeforce: Rockhold v Kennedy

Luke (in blue) exchanges kicks with Kennedy at the Strikeforce main fight on Saturday. Photo by Esther Lin/Zuffa/publicity.

Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, 27, is respected for his aggressive style standing and on the ground. On Saturday, it was the native of Santa Cruz, California’s turn to outfight Tim Kennedy for five rounds and win by unanimous decision in Portland, Oregon.

Last year, Luke won a decision over Ronaldo Jacaré and became the divisional champion. Unbeaten since 2007, Luke now awaits an August second encounter Jacaré, and should Jacaré win he will then await a rubber match.

Luke is also an old acquaintance to anyone who would pay regular visits to major Jiu-Jitsu championships. Also a good surfer, the Strikeforce champion is a Jiu-Jitsu brown belt and has put together a collection of medals on the mat. In 2006, he earmed a silver medal at the IBJJF Pan. In 2007, he won the competition as a blue belt. That same year, he was promoted to purple belt and won the No-Gi World Champion in California.

None of that was accidental. Luke spent a season in Rio de Janeiro, sharpening up his Jiu-Jitsu in Barra da Tijuca, and the practice in Brazil and the USA proved worthwhile. When he won the championships, Luke showed his euphoria for winning with a simple and striking gesture: he wouldn’t take off his medal. Throughout the entire weekend, he walked around the tournamentwith the medal on his chest and a smile on his face.

The champion’s attitude at the time evokes something Master Rickson Gracie says: “In life, it is important not to lose the joy of a child. At sea, on the beach or training at the gym, I do not lose the will to have fun, which for me is something almost childish.”

A professional champion and the owner of a complete fight style, Luke could have been a serious athlete the whole time. His father, Steve, in fact, was a good basketball player, having played for NBA team Golden State Warriors. His brother Matt is a professional surfer.

But what Luke Rockhold really gets a kick out of is doing Jiu-Jitsu.

What about you, what’s the Strikeforce champion’s greatest strength, besides his joy?

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