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Michael Bisping on Luke Rockhold: ‘I think I took his soul’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

More than eight months have passed since Michael Bisping stunned the MMA world by seizing the UFC middleweight title with a surreal first-round knockout of Luke Rockhold, but the memory of UFC 199 still lives strong in the 185-pound division.

Bisping has since defended his title with a revenge win over Dan Henderson, while Rockhold has effectively been a ghost, stuck on the sidelines due to an ACL injury after withdrawing from a Nov. 2016 rematch against Ronaldo Souza.

Nonetheless, despite Rockhold’s time away, Bisping has very much been on the former champion’s mind. Rockhold took aim at the outspoken Brit on a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, stating that once he returned to full health, he would be willing to forgo a UFC title shot if that’s what it took to secure a trilogy fight against Bisping.

And not surprisingly, when asked for his thoughts on Rockhold’s comments, Bisping couldn’t help but laugh.

“What is Luke Rockhold doing?” Bisping said on The MMA Hour. “When did he say he’s going to fight again? What are his plans? I do believe we are now almost in March. That fight was in June. I don’t know what happened there, but I think I took his soul. I don’t think we’ll ever see Luke Rockhold again. I beat the sh*t out of him. I don’t know, I think he’s done. The way he went down, I think so. Why hasn’t he fought again?

“A lot of time has passed. If that were me, I would’ve been right back in there.”

Rockhold on Monday said that he was eyeing a July return to the UFC against Souza, who recently mocked Rockhold for having “chickened out” of their 2016 fight by, as Souza claimed, faking his ACL injury.

Rockhold explained that a summer return would be right in line with his recovery timetable after having avoided surgery to correct his knee issues. But after learning of Rockhold’s situation, Bisping again couldn’t help but poke at his former foe.

“So it’s not bad enough that he needs surgery, but he needs, what, he needs nine months to go travel the world and be a playboy?” Bisping said. “That doesn’t sound like a man who wants to be champion again to me.”

Rockhold’s eventual return would bring further intrigue to a UFC middleweight division already overflowing with viable storylines amongst its top contenders. And another big-name contender added his name to that queue this past Saturday, as longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva picked up his first victory since 2012 with a controversial unanimous decision win over Derek Brunson at UFC 208.

Silva and Bisping share plenty of history — the two competed in one of the best fights of 2016, with Bisping edging Silva via decision in his native England. And even despite Silva’s declining performances at age 41, “The Spider” unquestionably remains a hallowed name at 185 pounds.

But when it came to the action that unfolded in Brooklyn, Bisping wasn’t impressed by what he saw from Silva.

“I thought he lost,” Bisping said. “I guess you could see an argument for him winning, but I think he disappointed. I thought Anderson really, to be honest, clowned himself, clowned everybody in attendance, clowned the UFC. It was clearly obvious that Anderson was the better fighter. He stopped the takedowns for the most part. His takedown defense looked great. And when he did decide to pull the trigger and actually throw something, he was all over Brunson.

“But he just didn’t pull the trigger. He stood there and he tried to do his usual Anderson Silva thing. He doesn’t fight with a sense of urgency because he’s the great Anderson Silva. Well, unfortunately, that’s not good enough. He got very lucky with the decision, and I feel that it’s a real shame, because like everybody, I’m a fan of Anderson Silva. I like watching him fight. I feel that he didn’t do justice to his legions of fans.”

Bisping also didn’t mince words when asked if he felt like Silva looked old against Brunson.

“He did,” Bisping said. “I said that at the weigh-ins when I saw at the weigh-ins. He looked a little skinny, and a little flabbier. It’s weird. Weird when you don’t take steroids what happens to you.”

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