Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold hasn’t fought since his shocking title loss to Michael Bisping last June. After suffering a knee injury late last year, he’s eyeing a return in the near future.
Ever since Rockhold’s loss to the current titleholder, the top of the division has been quite foggy and somewhat at a stalemate. While contenders like Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza already unarguably deserve a title shot, Bisping defended the belt for the first time against Dan Henderson last October, and now he’s expected to face former welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre later this year.
Rockhold isn’t happy with the UFC’s booking of Bisping vs. St-Pierre, but isn’t even sure that the bout will occur as planned, as it appears that the pair of fighters are having difficulties agreeing on a date.
“I think Georges has other issues that are holding him back from fighting, too,” Rockhold told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter. “It doesn’t seem like he’s really hungry to get back in there as soon as he can.”
At this point, the 32-year-old thinks the idea of an interim title makes perfect sense, because, in his eyes, Bisping is not fighting the best the 185-pound division has to offer.
“An interim title is very justified at this point,” Rockhold said. “Two irrelevant title fights back-to-back is stupid. (Bisping vs.) Dan (Henderson) was one thing, but [Bisping vs. St-Pierre] is a joke.
“An interim title is a guarantee at a title shot; that’s what I see. You want guarantees. If you’re gonna fight the best guys in the world, I want a guarantee I’m going to fight for the title. We’ve worked our asses off, we’ve earned the spot.”
The aforementioned Romero recently expressed interest in an interim title bout with Anderson Silva, who needs an opponent for June’s UFC 212 after Kelvin Gastelum was pulled from the bout. Rockhold is also eyeing a fight opposite the longtime great; that said, Romero for the interim belt is a fight Rockhold would accept.
“If that was on the table, I’d gladly take it,” Rockhold said. “And I think [Romero] feels the same way.”
But UFC president Dana White isn’t so down for a middleweight interim title fight.
“Luke should really wait for his next shot at something, next fight or something, because that’s kind of a ridiculous statement,” White told reporters after UFC 210 on Saturday night (via TSN.ca). “Not only is Bisping ready and willing to defend the title, he’s waiting on GSP right now. And he also said, ‘As soon as this GSP fight is over, if I win the title again, I will defend against Romero immediately.’ So no.”
Rockhold, at the end of the day, wants to right all the wrongs that have been created ever since he lost the strap at UFC 199.
“I’m ready to come back,” Rockhold said. “I’m tired of what’s going on. It’s pretty sad to see the route they’ve taken, and I’m ready to go back there and correct the situation.”