Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold has a date set for his next title defense, though his opponent may not be the man he was expecting.
Rockhold has verbally agreed to put his belt on the line against undefeated up-and-comer Lorenz Larkin on Strikeforce's November 3rd show, sources close to the situation confirmed. MMA Weekly first reported the booking.
Prior to this development, speculation swirled that Rockhold's next title defense would be a rematch against former champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, as both Rockhold and Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker had publicly discussed the match-up. Jacare's manager Gilberto Faria was unsure why the rematch was ultimately dismissed, informing MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani that "Jacare" was 100 percent healthy and only needed 8-to-10 weeks for a training camp.
Regardless, Rockhold (10-1) now looks to defend his belt for a record third time, following a first-round smashing of Keith Jardine and a hard-fought decision win over Tim Kennedy. Meanwhile Larkin (13-0, 1 NC), a former light heavyweight, hopes to capitalize on a successful middleweight debut after outpointing Robbie Lawler in July.
Both Rockhold and Larkin have yet to stumble under the Strikeforce banner, though Larkin did initially lose to former light heavyweight champion Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal before having the result overturned to a ‘no contest' after Lawal tested positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone.
Strikeforce: Cormier vs. Mir will be held at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK. A cross-promotional bout pitting Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion Daniel Cormier against former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir headlines the event.