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Luke Rockhold still wants ‘Jacare’ Souza fight when he returns from knee surgery

UFC ‘Go Big’ press conference photos
Luke Rockhold

After a knee injury forced former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold out of a planned November fight against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Souza went on the verbal warpath, claiming both the Rockhold was “afraid” and that he “chickened out” of the fight. He even went so far as to say Rockhold faked his ACL injury.

Rockhold, meanwhile, knows only one way to respond to Souza, who defeated Tim Boetsch last weekend at UFC 208. The American Kickboxing Academy fight challenged Souza to fight over the summer.

“I could care less what Jacare thinks of my situation,” if he thinks I’m running or not,” Rockhold said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “It’s pretty laughable to me. ... If the time frame works for him, I think July, International Fight Week, that time frame works pretty nicely.”

Rockhold, of course, hasn’t fought since his stunning first-round knockout loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 last June. But while he obviously wants to avenge the defeat, Rockhold says he understands Yoel Romero is next in line for a title shot, so a rescheduled date with Souza maeks the most sense.

“I want Jacare,” Rockhold said. “I’m not looking to come back and dance around, I want the best in the division, and I want to get my title.”

The duo have a history. Rockhold scored a unanimous decision over Souza in 2011 to claim the Strikeforce middleweight belt. And while Souza has peeled off 10 wins in his past 11 fights, Rockhold doesn’t sound overly impressed with what he’s seen from Souza since the last time they squared off.

“I think he’s slow, I think he’s stiff, and I think he forces the fight where I kind of flow with the fight,” Rockhold said. “I haven’t seen him grow since I fought him. Obviously I had a little fallback, but I’ll bounce back and I’ll reset myself and I’ll put that man away, finish it.”

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