Around this time last year, Luke Rockhold was the reigning UFC middleweight champion, and the division’s most pressing question was when his rematch with former champ Chris Weidman would be signed, and how things would go when they made it to the Octagon.
You know what’s transpired since: Weidman was injured and Michael Bisping took the UFC 199 title shot and scored a stunning knockout to win the title. Since then, Bisping has fought Dan Henderson and Rockhold has been on the sidelines with a knee injury.
So as Rockhold heals up, he’s set his mind on one thing: He wants a rematch with Bisping, title or not.
If Bisping, who is expected to face Yoel Romero next, loses the belt, Rockhold would rather have a trilogy fight with the bombastic Brit than a title shot.
“I want Bisping,” Rockhold said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “There’s no way around it. I’m not going to give that up. That one doesn’t sit that well with me and I’m going to have to go out and find him no matter, title or not title, I will not let that pass. I’ll finish that. If he does lose, I’ll take a step back and avoid the title and go after that first. I’m not letting that man squeak by and keep running his mouth.”
For his part, while Rockhold admits it’s been frustrating sitting on the sidelines, he doesn’t believe the pecking order has changed all that much.
“I think Bisping is a coward and he’s running and trying to look for irrelevant fights,” Rockhold said. “I think Jacare is right where he was before I left. Anderson [Silva], he came back, he did his thing. I haven’t seen much else.
“I think everyone sees how the division is playing, and how Bisping is stalling and is trying to do everything he can work around fighting one of the top guys,” Rockhold continued. “You have to expect that it should take awhile for a chance to come up, given Yoel is first.”
In the meantime, Rockhold, who submitted Bisping in their first fight in 2014, has to live with what went down last June at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. And he admits it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
“It doesn’t sit well with me,” said Rockhold, who has targeted an early-summer return from his knee injury. “If anyone knows me, that’s not going to sit well with me and it kind of frustrated me and that’s why I’ve gone off to travel and distract myself. I’m trying to get healthy but I know that I can’t go in there without my weapons, I would almost cheat myself to go on without the left kick in that fight and I finally realized it and I tried to dance around it. ... I gotta go in with my tools, and I can’t f*ck around. I have to go in there and show what’s mine.”