Although things are going pretty, pretty, good for Luke Rockhold these days, the former Strikeforce champ doesn’t care for where he’s ranked in the UFC’s middleweight division.
Following Rockhold’s demolition of Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 55, the 30 year-old has been making the case for why he, and not “Jacare” Souza, should challenge for the belt next.
Souza is currently ranked #2 in the division, behind Vitor Belfort, who will challenge champion Chris Weidman on February 28th. Rockhold is sitting at #5.
“Jacare” has moved into that position thanks to a seven fight win streak, which includes four wins with the UFC. As a result, the consensus has been that Souza will likely challenge for the title next.
The thing is, however, that Rockhold defeated Souza back in 2011, when the two were with Strikeforce. While talking about his own title shot prospects following his UFC FN 55 win, here is some of what Rockhold had to say about “Jacare” (quotes via MMA Junkie.com):
“I don’t (get) why he’s above me in the rankings,” Rockhold said. “That definitely upsets me, people pegging him as the No. 1 contender.”
“I think I’ve grown more,” Rockhold said, while discussing Souza. “I believe I’m more dynamic than him. I beat him the first time, and I was young. I was very nervous going into that fight. I wasn’t very technical, and I’m a different man now.”
While Rockhold’s supporters may agree with him on this, the one fly in this argument’s ointment, is that the talented fighter was taken out by Vitor Belfort last May.
Casual, or “UFC only” fans, have no knowledge of Rockhold’s win over Souza. All they know is that the latter has gone undefeated in the UFC, while Rockhold was bombed out by Belfort.
Now, anyone in their right mind should have been extremely impressed with what Rockhold has demonstrated since the loss, but he may need one more win to lock up a title shot.
It might eliminate a top contender, but why not book Rockhold-Souza II? “Jacare’s” camp may not want to run the risk of having him lose his title shot, but it certainly would make for a compelling fight. Especially since Weidman-Belfort is still several months away.
Barring any injuries, chances are the middleweight belt won’t be up for grabs once again until when? Next July or August?