Luke Rockhold may have been dealt a setback in his Octagon debut, but he's looking to fire back strong.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion came out on the business end of his bout against Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 8 back in May. And while the knockout loss in his first showing under the UFC banner was far from what the Santa Cruz native wanted to display on the sport's biggest stage, Rockhold is adamant the loss to "The Phenom" is far from defining who he is as a fighter.
That being said, the 28-year-old Californian is eager to get back into the Octagon and has already set his sights on the next target. During a recent appearance on Fuel TV's UFC Tonight, the NorCal representative called out fellow middleweight Alan Belcher. Rockhold believes the fight makes perfect sense in the divisional picture and is angling for a matchup with the Duke Roufus-trained fighter.
"I think that fight makes some sense and makes for an exciting fight," Rockhold told Bleacher Report. "Belcher is an exciting guy and I think we are going to get after it and I like that. I like the matchup. I want to fight a top guy. I don't believe my last fight really represented who I was and who I am as a fighter. I want to fight a top guy and get right back in the mix. I want to get that belt. This is a minor setback in life, and these things only make you stronger."
While Rockhold is looking to line up a fight with Belcher for later this year, there is still another name in the middleweight division he'd like to get his hands on. The AKA-trained fighter has a bit of history with perennial contender Michael Bisping and would like to step into the cage with "The Count" in the near future as well.
The tension arose after the two middleweights sparred together during a training session and Bisping proceeded to tell MMA Uncensored Live what transpired in the gym. The Brash Brit claimed to be the real Strikeforce champion and the comments got under Rockhold's skin. While he understands an immediate matchup with the TUF winner is unlikely, it's still a fight he wants badly.
"I want to fight Bisping because he talked sh**," Rockhold said. "We trained together and he talked sh**. Who talks about practice? It's practice. Like Allen Iverson said, 'Are we talking about practice? Who talks about practice?' I'd definitely love to fight that guy.
"I'd love to set the record straight with that one, but I think the Belcher fight makes sense and it's a good fight. I want to fight a top guy and he's a good opponent at this point. I want to get back into the mix, and having to face another fighter coming off a loss, I think Belcher is a great match."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.