Luke Rockhold: UFC Needs To Get Back To Best Fighters Facing Each Other

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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.”

  • JamesC

    Wow…Rockhold brings up an interesting point I never thought of…if GSP wins its not crazy that they fight for MW strap. Well it is crazy, but the way things are going he is 100% correct. The interim title comes with a certain set of guarantees.

    I personally dont want Rockhold vs Whittaker. I think Rockhold is a stylistic nightmare for Whittaker and I would like to see his star rise a bit more. Rockhold should fight either Silva or Romero imo.

    I do suspect after Floyd and MCgregor ends up being a non-competitive dud. And GSP lays and prays on Bisping for the belt. The fans will want to get back to the more traditional best vs the best format that made these guys stars to begin with. instead of the “freak” shows.

    • Juan Diablo

      GSP drops that belt voluntarily without attempting a defense and goes back down to his home weight. This Bisping fight will all be for nothing and all these guys waiting line for a shot are going to be even more pissed. GSP is too small to hang with anyone there except Bisping

    • Samuel Mitchell

      My thoughts right now are this….There is no clue what the new owners are going to do with belts now. Fast, wait or something else. They bought this business at the very crux of change(Conor and the rise of the ability to call fights). I don’t think they know what to do.

      I’m a purist so I’m always going to look for the best to fight the best like Rockhold says. Sometimes lower folks get a shot if a champ is wiping the division but other than that, I Want the champ to fight the next best.

    • Murdock

      Funny what u said about the interim title, cos when Aldo defeated Edgar for the interim belt you’d think that a Conor vs Aldo 2 showdown was gonna happen but McGregor avoided it from happening.

      And in some ways, Bisping is playing it similarly by avoiding to fight the top 5 middleweights by making excuses, taking a fight with GSP, trying to promote a money fight with Tyron Woodley or going as far to defend the title against Hendo who was basically retiring.

      • JamesC

        I agree and disagree

        That is the point. If Aldo and Frankie didnt fight for the interim belt Aldo would have nothing.

        I dont really have a problem with Connor. I dont view him as avoiding fights. He is a smart guy and is pretty straight forward about his goals. He wasnt avoiding Aldo…he was going towards the money which was the two division champ. Alvarez vs McG made more money than Aldo 2, but more importantly it set the stage for the money fight with Mayweather. Not sure if Connor will fight again after that.

        I dont see Bisping as avoiding a fight. He is going where the money is. There is a difference

        The UFC is to blame. They made a star that is almost bigger than the sport. It was a short term gain but with long term problems (everybody wants a money fight, divisions are getting held up)

  • Jess Fenchley

    And how in any way does that involve you, Luke?

    • Samuel Mitchell

      He’s part of the top tier in the title conversations.

      • Jess Fenchley

        He just went to the back of the line with his Bitschsping fiasco

        • Murdock

          No he’s still ranked #2 I last checked so …

  • Shock Wave

    What made the company great is the best vs the best, spot on, dude!

    Whoever has the biggest mouth runs the show isn’t working out as well…

  • Wabbit

    [the UFC’s willingness to abandon all semblance of meritocracy in the division..]
    ________________________________
    Now it is a “free for all” with White picking and choosing the fighters who compete for a belt; which has apparently resulted in the squeakiest wheels getting all the oil.

    It may be worth noting that very few of those considered legends in UFC, were self-promoting, smack talkers…but then, THAT was a different UFC than today’s carnival version. Perhaps it is only a matter of time, before UFC becomes corrupt and rigged, as boxing became.

    • JamesC

      Hate to tell you. It has usually been that way. Go back and look at some of the guys Tito, Chuck and Matt Hughes fought, even Anderson. They were not all the most deserving. The only difference is that there are official “rankings”now.

      Otherwise, it was anybody who was next. Tito pretty much made a living off of facing cans and he was the face of the company. Chuck was better, but facing Jeromy Horn was little different than Bisping facing Hendo. Hughes facing Gracie and Trigg 2 were all a bit weird. Even Anderson facing Maia was a bit weird at the time.

  • Dave WC

    It’s refreshing how he called out Whitaker respectfully and saying he wants to fight him because he’s a good fighter rather than the usual bullshit.

    • Murdock

      He wants to fight Whitaker but yet he was too chickens**t to have a rematch with Jacare?

      Hmm, yeah ok!

    • JamesC

      Bisping is a jerk because he speaks his truth without trying to water it down or be PC. He is just being himself. He has realized that sells. He has been very respectful to many guys…Weidman, Whittaker, Hendo etc. He has called guys out on things that bother him…drug abusers, cheaters and arrogance.