LUKE Rockhold says he is out to make a statement in his UFC221 interim title fight with Yoel Romero at Perth Arena on Sunday.
The American was set to battle middleweight champion Robert Whittaker to be crowned the division’s best but injury ruled the Australian out of the UFC’s Perth debut, with Romero stepping in to fill the void.
With Whittaker beating Romero last July, Rockhold said he was out to claim a big win and prove he is the best in the division.
“If I can do it better… who is the best? That’s what I plan on doing (making a statement),” he said.
Rockhold said he would be patient against his Cuban opponent.
“I’m going to wait for him, I’m going to pick him off from the outside and he’s going to have to come in,” he said.
“When he comes in, I’m going to make him pay.”
Romero, speaking through a translator, would not be drawn into a slanging match.
“These are Luke’s opinions and I respect them,” he said.
Romero, a Sydney Olympics silver medal-winning wrestler, is renowned for his explosiveness.
While acknowledging the threat, Rockhold was confident he would find a chink in the armour.
“This isn’t wrestling, this is mixed martial arts and when it comes to grappling, I’m the best,” he said.
“Yoel will find himself in trouble everywhere that fight goes.
“I can scramble, I can grapple. If he ends up on (the) bottom, I’ll take the life out of him.
“I respect his wrestling. He’s the best wrestler to ever grace this sport, one of the best ever in wrestling.
“But he’s an explosive wrestler, not a positional wrestler.
“He can’t compete with me on the ground.
“He’ll learn. He’ll find that out shortly.”
Meanwhile Australian Mark Hunt, who hasn’t fought since July to due to health concerns, said he was excited to fight American Curtis Blaydes in a co-main event.
“I’m looking forward to fighting on Sunday and putting on a great show,” he said.
“Curtis is a great competitor, he’s number nine for a reason.
“We’re going to kill each other. It’s going to be great.”