Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold has a strong resume.
The 29-year-old trains out of American Kickboxing Academy and has defeated the likes of Tim Kennedy, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Keith Jardine during his career.
In terms of the pecking order, he's right outside the Top Five, but a win this Saturday over Tim Boetsch at UFC 172 would go a long way in positioning him right back as a contender.
Let's quickly flash back to last May in Brazil, where Belfort delivered a spinning heel kick that floored Rockhold, sending him crashing to the canvas in defeat. Was it a "lucky" connection between Belfort's foot and Rockhold's head? Sure, but it was still a lasting image.
Just like the one of Randy Couture being knocked out by Lyoto Machida. Or Chris Weidman taking out Anderson Silva.
When you match up two highly skilled athletes, any fight-ending blow is a lucky one. But it was still a nasty one.
When Rockhold calls into question Belfort's strike and previous use of testosterone replacement therapy, he sounds like he's whining. And that's not Rockhold. He's always done what's been asked of him, from taking on "The Phenom" in his Octagon debut to defending his Strikeforce title against a non-contender in Jardine.
If you recall the fight in question, Belfort was in control from start to finish, firing off numerous shots and overpowering Rockhold before he finally landed the bone-crunching hit. Instead of trying to stand and trade, Rockhold needed to get the fight with Belfort to the ground.
He has six career submission victories, and Belfort has been submitted twice in his career. Not great odds, but for someone lacking the amount of knockouts like Rockhold, thinking he could drop a fighter the caliber of Belfort out of pure luck didn't seem like a strong strategy.
Instead of trying to provoke Belfort, Rockhold needs to just live and learn. He's got a better challenge—assuming he defeats Boetsch—in Michael Bisping, who called him out on Twitter.
Rockhold and Bisping could headline a future show in Europe or even in the U.S. Both are well-rounded and well-versed on the microphones.
With "The Count," Rockhold would be taking on the task of facing someone who also lost to Belfort in Brazil in devastating fashion. Plus, Bisping carries a great reputation, a high ranking and plenty of quality wins on his resume. He's been on the cusp of title contention a handful of times, falling short in bouts vs. Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson.
Belfort will be locked up in a title fight once he gets cleared and can obtain his fight license. He isn't going to take a step back and revisit Rockhold, who needs to understand that.
If Rockhold can reel off some impressive victories over members of the UFC's elite at middleweight, a rematch with Belfort will be there.
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