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Luke Rockhold ready to face Chris Weidman if Vitor Belfort unable to fight

Matt King

Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza look to be at the top of the list to get the winner of the UFC 184 middleweight title fight between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort.

With that fight scheduled for Feb. 28 in Los Angeles, a title shot for Rockhold or Souza looks likely for sometime next summer.

But Rockhold (13-2), coming off his win over Michael Bisping over the weekend in Sydney, Australia, thinks there's a good chance he won't be waiting that long.

Ariel Helwani reported on UFC Tonight on Wednesday that Rockhold told him he is going to be ready, in case Vitor Belfort fails a drug test, to take his place in the bout with Weidman. Rockhold had talked for months, even before signing to face Bisping, and when Weidman vs. Belfort was still scheduled for December, that he thought the odds of Belfort either failing a test or being injured in camp were significant, and was going to make sure to be ready if the call came.

Souza, who Rockhold beat via five-round decision on Sept. 10, 2011, when Rockhold was Strikeforce middleweight champion, is currently ranked as the No. 3 contender. Rockhold is No. 5, which Rockhold questioned. But Souza hasn't lost in three years, while Rockhold was knocked out by Belfort last year.

Anderson Silva, who Weidman has beaten twice, is still listed as the top contender. Belfort is ranked No. 2, and Lyoto Machida, who Weidman beat via decision in July, is ranked No 4.

Souza hasn't been cleared to fight after surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. His management told UFC Tonight that he wants to face either Yoel Romero or Machida next, provided Machida beats C.B. Dolloway on Dec. 20 in Brazil.

Helwani said that Dana White told him he would be meeting with Rockhold next week to map out what is next for him.

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