A Round 1 knockout via a spinning kick from Vitor Belfort wasn't quite what Luke Rockhold had hoped for heading into UFC on FX 8 on Saturday night, but he'll be able to bounce back with a respectable next fight, so long as he wins.
Losing to Belfort was a huge blow to Rockhold's legacy, as he would've made a strong case to face Anderson Silva or his challenger, Chris Weidman, for the middleweight title. A chance to even have at Silva is the only proof you need to show you're in elite company in UFC, even if you lose to The Spider.
Although Rockhold should've been ready for Belfort's kick, it's unknown what would have happened if that kick hadn't landed. Rockhold may have been able to regain momentum, and things could have been very different.
Now, Rockhold will have to explore some other options to get some quality wins under his belt. While he won't draw the attention of a Silva or Jon Jones, he'll be able to pick up a great fight against a contender who has faced the likes of those fighters before.
Let's take a look at some possible opponents for the Strikeforce star to get back in the win column against.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
I see a rematch with Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza as the most likely fight for Rockhold as he looks to face a familiar foe.
The two faced off in an epic Strikeforce bout back in 2011, a fight that went all five rounds but ended in a unanimous decision for Rockhold. That loss snapped a four-match win streak for the Brazilian and he's won the same amount in a row since then.
The latest win from Souza actually came Saturday on the same fight card as Rockhold, as he submitted Chris Camozzi in the first round with an arm triangle choke.
Jacare boasts a 18-3-1 record throughout his career, and the 33-year-old seems to be quality competition despite Rockhold's previous victory.
While defeating Souza for the second time wouldn't be the biggest statement, it would allow Rockhold to get back on his feet and land the quick win he's looking for .
This American has a much different fighting background than Rockhold, coming up strictly in UFC with a 9-0 record compared to Rockhold, who has primarily fought in Strikeforce.
However, this would be a big matchup for Rockhold to land and would be a huge statement win.
Assuming Weidman loses to Silva—which isn't exactly an off prediction, given Silva's nature—he'll be looking to claim a quality victory on his way back up. With just one loss at that time, he'll likely be willing to go at Rockhold.
If Rockhold is up for the challenge against the American, this could be an exciting fight that goes the distance and serves as a huge stepping stone for whoever prevails.
Michael Bisping has produced elite results in his career and fought hard and well against Chael Sonnen in defeat last year.
Bisping is also coming off an April 27 victory over Alan Belcher, where he earned a technical decision after an inadvertent eye poke.
This is the type of matchup that would bode well for Rockhold, who needs to prove he can beat better talent.
At this point, Rockhold should only be focused on getting the best fight possible and not wasting his time pursuing fights he can't get. Fortunately for him, this is a great fight and he's worthy of it.
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