The UFC is still scrambling to find an opponent for longtime former champion Anderson Silva at May 13’s UFC 212 from Rio after his originally scheduled opponent Kelvin Gastelum was forced out when he failed a USADA drug test for marijuana metabolites.
Names like Silva’s former foil Vitor Belfort and former champion Luke Rockhold were teased as potential replacement opponents, and indeed word arrived that ‘the process of booking Silva vs. Rockhold’ was underway. But ‘The Spider’ soon came out with a reason why he didn’t want to fight either of those top names, noting that he was coming off a win (a highly controversial decision win over Derek Brunson at UFC 208) and they were both coming off a loss.
Rockhold discussed the disappointing news with Submission Radio (via Bloody Elbow), citing Silva’s actually questionable record over the past years and then shifting his focus towards finding a top-ranked opponent to get him back into title contention:
“He made an excuse saying I’m coming off a loss and (he’s) coming off a win, but if you look at his record he’s [1-4 (1 NC)] in his last five fights, six fights and his win is questionable, so I don’t know where he is. He’s justifying that case is kind of… I don’t really understand that justification. So I’m just coming off a title loss and going five and one against the best guys in the world. So yeah, good luck with that one. But we’re moving on to UFC 213 and we’re trying to find a contender, somebody who’s up there, somebody who wants to get dirty and get back to that title and that’s what I want.”
While his desired match with Silva has apparently fallen by the wayside, there are still some very intriguing match-ups on the table for him in No. 1 Yoel Romero and rising No. 3 Robert Whittaker. But roadblocks remain in a potential fight against both, as Romero has stated he’ll wait for his much-deserved title shot while Whittaker recently said Rockhold’s target date of July’s UFC 213 might be too fast a turnaround for him after he stormed into title contender status by knocking out Jacare Souza at UFC on FOX 24 on April 22.
There’s always a solid match-up with rising No. 4-ranked Gegard Mousasi, but again, “The Dreamcatcher” still has to take care of a new contract with the UFC before agreeing to any bout. And with Michael Bisping set to take on Georges St-Pierre at a yet-to-be-determined date and locale, the UFC’s middleweight division is as big a mess as any division has ever been in MMA.
Who should Rockhold fight next?