Regardless of who walks out of UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden with the 185-pound title, neither man will be defending the title next – that’s according to ex-UFC middleweight champ Luke Rockhold.
Rockhold joined The MMA Hour yesterday (Mon. September 25, 2017) to discuss the current state of the middleweight division, and the fact that former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who has never competed at 185 pounds in the UFC, is getting a shot at the belt fresh out of retirement.
With Bisping already talking about the possibility of retiring, and St-Pierre seeming to have making history on his mind as his career draws to a close as well, Rockhold doesn’t see either man defending the title after UFC 217 (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I don’t believe Bisping will, either,” Rockhold said. “He’s ran this far. He’s finally gonna come up and get a payday. Either way, I don’t think either one fights any of us.”
Following his second round TKO win over David Branch at UFC Pittsburgh just weeks ago, Rockhold refused to mention Bisping by name in his post-fight speech, but had no issue mentioning the Canadian phenom on multiple occasions. Rockhold said that Bisping didn’t deserve a reference from him, and believes “GSP” is ‘overstepping his boundaries’ with his title shot against “The Count”:
“He doesn’t deserve it,” Rockhold said. “GSP, he’s overstepping his boundaries. He’s jumping into a world that he’s not ready for. I mean, even if he were to win this fight, he’s unprepared to fight any of us. That’s not gonna happen. It just doesn’t make any sense. And it’s annoying. It’s what we all worked for, is to get to that title. To have that thing held hostage is frustrating. The direction this company is going, just feeding the people this bullshit. I fight to get the title, I fight to be the best. There’s two of them out there and I’m trying to hunt one down. So, obviously Bisping is my first priority. If not, Whittaker is there.”
The 32-year-old Californian noted that one of his coaches noticed Bisping looking at his Instagram stories during his last training camp, taking it as an indication that Bisping is looking over his shoulder for Rockhold as he reemerges in the title picture:
“He’s nervous, he’s scared,” Rockhold said. “He knows his time is limited. He’s gonna have to run. I’m gonna be there. I’m gonna put myself on that stage, on that doorstep. He’s gonna have to make a choice.”
“If he wants to think that I’m vulnerable in that realm or any of those realms, please. Sign the contract. I’ll be ready to go. As a matter of fact, if Bisping were to sign to fight with me, I would promise you and the world, I would bet on it. I would not shoot for one takedown. This would purely be a stand up fight. I’d give him every opportunity to implement his boxing, get on the inside. … I f*cking guarantee you, I will finish you on the feet. With all the holes in my game, I will pick you apart.”