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Luke Rockhold likes his chances at getting rubber match with 'piece of sh*t' Michael Bisping

The potential middleweight title contenders have come out of the woodwork in recent weeks, ever since Michael Bisping defeated Luke Rockhold to win the belt at UFC 199.

There's Ronaldo Souza and Yoel Romero, who are as deserving as anyone. There's Chris Weidman, the former champ with a Bisping beef. Dan Henderson has thrown his name into the hat courtesy of a long history -- and classic knockout -- of Bisping. Even Anderson Silva, arguably the greatest of all time and coming off a loss to Bisping, has called out "The Count."

If you thought people calling out Bisping was prevalent before, now there might as well be a line outside his Orange County gym.

At the end of the day, though, Rockhold still believes that it's him and everyone else in the race for the next title shot. And he thinks he has the inside track, too.

"I think the odds are high," Rockhold told Ariel Helwani in a recent episode of The MMA Hour. "I think the opportunity is there. ... I f*cked up the whole division. I put Bisping in a place where he feels empowered and he's trying to pick and choose his fights. I think it's put a strain on everything, on all the matchups that need to happen. My bad. I f*cked up. I'm sorry to the fighters and I'm sorry to the fans that they have to deal with this piece of sh*t."

Bisping knocked out Rockhold in the first round June 6 in Los Angeles. It was a shocking result. Rockhold was a sizable favorite and already had a dominant, second-round submission win over Bisping under his belt. After the fight, the two exchanged words in the Octagon and things got very heated at the press conference.

"He's a tough guy," Rockhold said. "I lost fair and square. But the odds of that happening are fairly low. He caught me on the tip of my chin on the way out in a perfect moment and then followed it up.

"Congrats to him. He won. I think the guy is a true piece of sh*t and I think he's classless. Like I said, I'd love the opportunity to get that back. I think the odds are the odds and I'd love to write that wrong and fix it for everybody. I don't think he deserves it. I don't think he knew he was gonna do it. Obviously his reaction tells that. It's not gonna last long. I want that back. I want to settle the score. It's 1-1."

Rockhold (15-3) went into that fight with a sprained MCL and didn't do any grappling in training camp. More than that, though, the Santa Cruz, Calif., native felt like he needed to do something more impressive than just beat Bisping, since he finished him with such aplomb last time. That and overconfidence, he said, was his undoing.

"I think you need those nerves," Rockhold said. "They keep you honest, they keep you precise. They heighten your senses. I went in there with no nerves and thinking I had to put on a performance nobody had, go out there and show something different."

It was something different, all right. Way different than everyone -- including Rockhold -- expected. Now, Bisping has the title after a 10-year run struggling to get a title shot and seems to hold all the cards, too. Rockhold thinks Bisping is going to play it conservative and try to keep the belt for as long as he can.

"I think I screwed up the whole middleweight division," Rockhold said. "I think I put them in a tough spot. I think Bisping is obviously doing more of that, him being the ballsy guy and claiming how tough he is and he'll do this and he'll do that. He's being very picky about who he's fighting next. It seems like he's running from quite a few people. We see the true colors come out in Bisping. It's all coming out now."

The list of possible challengers is a long one. Rockhold, with his résumé in full view, believes he is still the best choice for the job.

"I think it makes the most sense of anything out there," Rockhold said. "I've already beat Weidman. He can't jump me for that. I've already beat Jacare. I'm the No. 1 contender. I've already beat Bisping. I think the rubber match is there and I think that's the fight to make. I want this."

Will he get it? It's ultimately up to the UFC, though Bisping will have plenty of say.

"It's not gonna last," Rockhold said, directing his words to Bisping. "Face the music. Try to be a real champion. If you want to be a real champion, go out there and let's fight. Fight me. Fight one of the top guys. You know I'm your route to being that true champion that you always wished you could be."

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