Robert Whittaker shook up the UFC middleweight division by knocking out third-ranked contender Ronaldo Souza at last Saturday’s UFC on FOX 24 event. By doing so, he tossed his name into the hat of the very backlogged-middleweight division. Although Whittaker was impressive, the reality is that he isn’t closer to a middleweight title shot than anyone else because current champion Michael Bisping is set for a title defense with Georges St-Pierre later this year. It’s pretty clear that the UFC’s willingness to abandon all semblance of meritocracy in the division has irritated most of the top contenders.
Former champion Luke Rockhold’s name was thrown out as a potential matchup for Whittaker. Rockhold came out and said that he is willing to fight him UFC 213 on July 8th. However, Whittaker declined to comment on the fight. Rockhold recently appeared on Submission Radio and stated that he is still keen on fighting the man affectionately referred to as “Bobby Knuckles” by hardcore fans.
“How about Bobby Knuckles, Rockhold said (trancript courtesy of MMA Fighting). “Boy is looking good. You Aussie’s got something to believe in right now. He’s looking fresh, looking tight, and I think we make a lot of sense right now. The kid wants to get his title shot; there’s a long list of guys in line right now, and I’m looking to get back at it, so I don’t see anything better. I appreciate the competition. I like what the kid’s done, and I want to test him, I want to test myself and get back at it.”
Rockhold was supposed to rematch Souza at the end of last year. However, that fight didn’t happen due to a knee injury forced Rockhold out of the bout. Now, he has recovered and is looking to get back inside the octagon. And with everyone else not interested in the fight, Rockhold says Whittaker is basically the only option left.
“I’ve been looking for a fight between all these guys. I’m not necessarily calling him out, we’re running out of opponents. Anderson Silva declined to fight. Other guys are out of the mix. Yoel’s waiting for an interim title or the real title. I need to reestablish myself, and he looked good so. . .”
The other option for Rockhold is fighting Yoel Romero. Rockhold say’s he would love to take the fight, but he thinks Romero is only going to fight if a belt is on the line.
“Romero wants that interim title, I know that for a fact and he’s not going to fight anybody else so if that comes to be, I’d gladly fight Yoel. That’s one and two. One and two should fight for it, if that’s the case. The champion should fight one, but if one and two are fighting, it should be an interim title, a guarantee that we’re gonna fight for the title next. I’m a fan of it. People want to run their mouths and say what they will about an interim title, but it guarantees you have a title shot. You put yourself in line. If they’re gonna hold everything hostage the way they are with no telling what’s gonna happen with the winners – these guys, if they win a fight, you never know what they’re gonna say. What is GSP gonna do when he wins the title? Is he gonna want to fight Conor McGregor for the middleweight title?
“The best fight the best. That’s what made this company what it is and they need to get back to it.”