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Rockhold TKO's Weidman to claim title

Luke Rockhold didn’t hide his confidence heading into his UFC 194 co-main event against Chris Weidman, and it didn’t take long to find out why, as the former Strikeforce champion dominated the New Yorker Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, stopping him in the fourth round to win the UFC middleweight championship.

“I can’t even believe this is real,” Rockhold said. But it is, with the 31-year-old from Santa Cruz taking advantage of a missed Weidman kick in the third round to begin ending the reign of the man who held the belt since July of 2013.

More from UFC 194: Experience the history again, order UFC 194 replay | Results | Bonus recap | Watch: Dana White offers his final verdict | McGregor makes history in KO win over Aldo | Rockhold TKO's Weidman to claim title | Romero, Maia and Holloway win | Faber, Torres go distance for wins | Mustafaev, Medeiros and McGee win early | Backstage interviews: Conor McGregor, Luke Rockhold, Demian Maia, Max Holloway, Urijah Faber, Tecia Torres | Octagon interviews: McGregor and Aldo, Rockhold and Weidman | Best pictures from UFC 194

“It was Luke’s night,” Weidman said. “I’ve got a beautiful family that loves me, fans that love me. I’ll be back.”

After the two traded kicks to begin the bout, a wild swing by Weidman set up his first takedown attempt, but he was unable to get it. Instead, he took Rockhold’s back as the two stood against the fence, Rockhold eluding danger and reversing position. Just before three minutes had elapsed though, Weidman got his takedown, Rockhold shooting right back to his feet. As the fighters continued to grapple against the fence, the crowd chanted “Let’s go Weidman,” but it was Rockhold who took the upper hand, sinking in a guillotine and pulling guard. The choke appeared to be deep, but Weidman stayed cool and forced a restart from referee Herb Dean. Rockhold immediately tried for the submission again, but this time Weidman got free easily just before the close of the round.

Weidman again swung wildly to open his offensive attack in Round 2, and this time Rockhold nearly made him pay with his own strikes. Rockhold appeared cool under the champion’s pressure, and he began landing his punches and kicks with more regularity, making it a clear cut round to score. Rockhold did appear to be getting winded though, taking a deep breath after a kick to the belly late.

After a rough second round, Weidman got back to form in the third, targeting the challenger’s body with kicks and making an effort to take the bout to the mat. Weidman got one takedown in the first half of the round, but once Rockhold got up, he showed signs of life in the form of several hard strikes and a takedown of his own when Weidman threw an ill-advised wheel kick. With 1:30 left, Rockhold looked for a choke and then took the mount, where he fired off ground strikes on the New Yorker. The bloodied Weidman tried to defend the onslaught, and despite punch after punch raining down on him, he made it to the horn.

Rockhold didn’t let up on his attack in Round 4, getting Weidman to the mat once more, and this time, the barrage of ground strikes prompted Herb Dean to call a stop to the fight at the 3:12 mark and crown a new king of the middleweights.

“All I care about is that I got the belt and the W,” Rockhold said. “And new.”

With the win, Rockhold improves to 15-2; Weidman falls to 13-1.

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