There’s no question of who Luke Rockholds wants to fight next. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Luke Rockhold wants a rematch with Vitor Belfort, but he will settle for a meeting with Michael Bisping.
Rockhold made his wish known following his one-sided win over Costas Philippou at UFC Fight Night 35 at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga., calling out the Brit as his next target in light of Belfort’s upcoming title shot against reigning UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
“I’m looking at anyone in the middleweight division to get myself back into a [good] position,” Rockhold said at the post-fight press conference. “I let it be known that Bisping is out there. A lot of people are calling him out, but Bisping went on national TV and told everyone that he was the unofficial Strikeforce champion. He calls it a joke, but I say he’s got bad taste, and he needs to pay for it.”
The comment in question was made by Bisping during a 2012 appearance on Spike TV’s short-lived “MMA Uncensored” program after recently sparring with the then-Strikeforce king. Though the remark appeared to have been made in jest, Rockhold would nevertheless like a chance to settle the score.
“I’d like to get that match. He’s a top-five middleweight out there,” said Rockhold. “There aren’t many guys freed up right now, but I’m interested in getting in there as soon as possible and having a good 2014.”
While it is unknown when Bisping will return to the cage after suffering a detached retina last year, such a pairing would appear to make sense for the UFC’s competitive middleweight division. Rockhold’s victory over Philippou was one of his most impressive outings to date, as the lanky southpaw stunned the hard-punching New Yorker with a crisp counter right hook before ending his night with a pair of brutal body kicks.
“I love my kicks -- my liver kick and my head kick. I was going to bait him in and then tag him and try to knock him out. If I didn’t, then I was going to take him down, but I just felt comfortable in the standup,” said Rockhold. “I was patient. I found my timing, and I think that’s the key to being the best I can be. Sometimes, I rush things and look sloppy, but tonight, I was composed and had my head together.”