It’s widely thought that the winner of this weekend’s (Sat., April 18, 2015) UFC on FOX 15 headliner between former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will get the next shot at the UFC 185-pound gold against the winner of UFC 187’s Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort.
With Yoel Romero getting knocked out of his co-main event bout against Jacare Souza last weekend, that perception became even more of a reality, placing even more emphasis on a bout that already featured ultra high stakes among two former champions.
They’ve both got a huge test in front of them in their respective opponent, as Machida is well known for being perhaps the most enigmatic striker in all of MMA. Rockhold, on the other hand, is a huge middleweight who uses his reach and kickboxing prowess to outclass opponents on the feet, and he also has a world-class ground game that has earned him even more wins on the mat.
Both are elite challengers; that much is far from on trial. But does winning in Newark, New Jersey, this Saturday night mean they’ll be able to wrest the belt away from whoever wins between Weidman and Belfort?
Tough to say, really. Weidman has been out of action since last July when he beat Machida with a five round display of pressure, heart, and determination at UFC 175; all the while contending with an injured hand that he later found out was broken and required surgery. Machida may have a better chance against Belfort in that regard, but it’s also tough to say where “The Phenom” is at after he’s been out of the cage for around 18 months come May 23.
Rockhold would love to have his revenge against Belfort, who handed him his first UFC loss in his promotional debut with a highlight reel wheel kick at UFC on FX 8 in May 2013, but he’ll take his shot against Weidman just the same. On a three-fight finish streak, Rockhold appears hell-bent on getting a title shot, and he’s obviously one of the most well rounded fighters competing in the UFC today.
They’ll have to get past the other one first, but regardless of who wins; do you think that fighter will be able to win the belt in their next contest?
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