Luke Rockhold scored a big win at UFC 172 when he submitted Tim Boetsch in the first round. Now, though, he is looking back for his next opponent. Speaking at the UFC 172 post-fight press conference, Rockhold called out former UFC light heavyweight champion (and one of his former opponents) Vitor Belfort.
"I want to redeem myself," he said when asked why he would want to face off with Belfort. "I want to earn my title shot and beating Belfort is...the most honorable way to do it."
For those who don't remember, Belfort and Rockhold faced off back at UFC on FX 8 in May 2013. Belfort pressed the action early, and it paid off quickly as he landed a spin kick to Rockhold's head. That ended an impressive nine-fight winning streak for Rockhold and sucked all the wind out of his title contender status as Strikeforce's final champion.
"He caught me at the right time, at a transition point," he said, referencing a relatively long layoff from the cage that resulted from the closure of Strikeforce. "He came out with something he's never done before...I don't think it told the whole tale of me and him...I know I can beat the guy."
However, as time went on, Belfort's win over Rockhold (as well as his win over Michael Bisping) became tainted by the overwhelming opposition to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). TRT is a medical treatment that allowed fighters to use synthetic testosterone (basically steroids). Belfort became the poster boy for abuse of the treatment, given his previous failed drug test for an anabolic steroid and his ballooning physique since starting therapy.
Belfort currently finds himself in an awkward position, though, as he was stripped of a UFC 163 title shot opposite Chris Weidman. He was replaced by Lyoto Machida, who will now face Weidman at UFC 165.
Whether or not Belfort will choose to wait for the winner of that fight, and whether he will even have that option, remains a mystery at this time. As such, it is difficult to peg whether or not Rockhold will be able to get the rematch he is looking for anytime in the near future.