Dana White looking to throw Luke Rockhold into the fire against Vitor Belfort

After Luke Rockhold unexpectedly called out Costa Phillipou, and after Vitor Belfort rather oddly called out both Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen (well kind of), it seems that both fighters will more than likely not be getting what they originally requested and will instead be more than likely – and ironically enough – stepping into the octagon with each other.

And you know what? That actually sounds like a great matchup. Vitor gets a contender that will move him up the rankings toward the Champion that he should have called out, while Rockhold is given the opportunity to fight a solid UFC veteran and prove to the world that he belongs among the Middleweight divisions very best bringing him one step closer to a title shot.

Asked about Belfort’s future since his spectacular finish of Middleweight contender Michael Bisping, Dana White shot straight and to the point:

“Rockhold. That’s what we’re talking about.”

Luke Rockhold is the last remaining Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, holding a record of 10-1. Obtaining the belt via a decision over former champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and then most recently defeating tough Middleweight contender and army ranger Tim Kennedy.

From a realistic perspective, calling out Jones was an odd move. It’s difficult to understand where Vitors head was at especially given how recent the fight took place. Calling out a champion who’s injured, already has a fight, including another #1 contender bout lined up and is in the middle of filming a lucrative reality show. Vitor must have taken a lot of blows to the head in training camp in order for that to make sense.

White always being a realist however, and looking to steer Vitor back on track to the path he should be taking, said:

“If Vitor beats Bisping and he knocks off a couple contenders at 185, it’s hard not to give him a title shot again.”

I would agree with this statement completely, Vitor has shown dominance over his opponents in the Middleweight division and has evolved and adapted to the newer style of hybrid martial arts that the younger fighters are now showcasing in the UFC.

But showing his never ending hunger to learn and implement new techniques, we got to see Vitor finish an elite opponent with a head kick, something we’ve seldom seen in his career. If the Vitor of old decides to return, with the super-quick hands and power, while continuing to learn and implement new techniques, he could very well defeat the champion on his second try. Believe that.


22 Comments

  1. Avatar of codemaster

    codemaster

    January 24, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    This is a good fight to make–and it has meaning in the division.

    Belfort was not deemed worthy of another title shot for KOing Bisping–but if he can knock out Rockhold–he is either getting a title shot or he is one fight away from a title shot.

    If Rockhold beats Belfort, I am pretty sure he will get a title shot. The UFC shot themselves in the foot with how they matched up the MW title hopefuls.

    They matched up Belcher with Okami–if Belcher had won–he might have gotten a shot–but Okami, who lost badly to Anderson Silva, was not near another title shot.

    Tim Boetsch might have been close to a titlle shot, but he lost to Costa Philippou who is still not near title contention.

    Hector Lombard might have had a shot but he lost to Boestch.

    They matched up Bisping with Belfort–willing to give Bisping a shot if he won–but not Belfort.

    Munoz was defeated by Weidman–but Weidman is now injured.

    To top it all off–Anderson Silva wants big fights and is not interested in the current MW competition–but is willing to take a fight with mid-tier LHW Stephan Bonnar.

    The UFC has not been handling the MW division very well–and Joe Silva has slipped in a number of his matchups.

    I know, I know–sometimes things don't play out the way you hope–but matches should be between two possibly worthy contenders so that whoever wins–the division moves forward with title fights.

  2. Avatar of UnderdogGreatness

    UnderdogGreatness

    January 24, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    I love that fight for both guys. If Rockhold wins, then he should get a title shot.

    • Avatar of Brian Cox

      Brian Cox

      January 25, 2013 at 2:05 am

      @ UG

      In all honesty, I don't think one win, over Belfort or anyone, could warrant a title shot. One win hasn't done that and probably won't do that, for anyone.

      Personally, I think what is called for here is someone with some wins, to step up and start pick up where Sonnen left off. This division, more than any other, needs a great trash talker. Someone that will dog Silva back to the ring and Chris Weidman, as much as I love him and his…awww shucks, Twitter challenged, attitude and ways, he's simply not getting the job done. Heck man, someone should convince Koscheck to move up. I'm sure he could liven thing up a little.

      • Avatar of Evan Holober

        Evan Holober

        January 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm

        It wouldn't be one win though.

        It would be a long win streak, that had two borderline top 5 fighters in it (Jacare, and theoretically Belfort). while also beating a tough guy inTim Kennedy. Plus he would have beaten the guy, who just beat the #1 contender (I know bit redundant).

        So I don't think a theoretical win over Belfort should be classified as "one win" just because its his first in the UFC. Escpecially, considering his quality of wins in SF.

  3. Avatar of Brian Cox

    Brian Cox

    January 24, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Good match-up or not, I think Rockhold should be fighting someone further down the ladder. Belfort is on a three fight win streak in the division and LR hasn't even got a win under his belt, yet. StrikeForce Champ or not.

    I think Belfort has already earned his title shot. To me, this is more about stalling Anderson's getting back into the ring, than anything else. Silva doesn't want to fight right now, so we'll just keep coming up with fight-after-fight, constantly eliminating contenders and churning the division, until "the champ" decides to grace the division with his presence, again. Until then it'll all be just a game of musical chairs and us wondering who will be seated when the music stops.

    Also, as a small bit of advice to any in this division, work on your Twitter accounts. Twitter accounts are important in the 185.

    No, knock off a couple more fighters or not, it will be Fighter X…sometime late in 2013, who will get the next shot at The Pope of 185. Start the music and grab a chair. It's going to be a long dance, because, while all the other Champs defend their titles, Anderson chooses to play DJ.

    • Avatar of Entity

      Entity

      January 25, 2013 at 12:15 am

      Oh well Rockhold asked for it. He might have bit off a bit more than he can chew, but if he prevails he'll climb that ladder fast.

    • Avatar of knn03

      knn03

      January 25, 2013 at 12:59 am

      Naw, I think being Strikeforce champ should automatically put you near the top of the UFC division. If that doesn't mean title shot it's at least a title contention fight. Luke Rockhold is a legit fighter. It's a great match up for both fighters.

      • Avatar of Brian Cox

        Brian Cox

        January 25, 2013 at 1:56 am

        @ Knn

        I don't disagree with it being a good match-up, it is and I'd pick Belfort in it. And I agree with your placement criteria. I just think LR places that close to Belfort to warrant him as a first opponent.

        Bisping coming off of a loss would be a better pairing, IMO. And it would be a big fight for Bisping, too. If Michael could beat Rockhold it would stop his slid down the 185 ladder and affirm his status as a top MW fighter.

        And don't they have some bad blood, too? Didn't Michael make some negative remarks about Rockhold and sparring, with him?

      • Avatar of KeithFarrell

        KeithFarrell

        January 25, 2013 at 2:35 pm

        I don't think being the SF champ shoudl give you automatic nothing.

        Shields and Diaz deserved to be at the top because they have been fighting the best for years and were both on incredible win streak when they got their #1 contender fights.

        Rockhold is good but he has beat 2, maybe 3 UFC level fighters.

        Does Saffedine also deserve to be at the top of 170 contenders because he got the belt?

  4. Avatar of enjoylife321

    enjoylife321

    January 25, 2013 at 1:02 am

    @MMA Truth….

    I hope the UFC do not sanction anymore fights for Silva at Light heavyweight or catchweight in the future unless of course its with bones for a title shot.
    Realistically, Belfort isn't going to get a shot at Silva for a very long time…Just think, if he needs two more impressive wins as suggested by Dana that fight would not happen until late 2014. If Rockhold and belfort are not next for Silva, makes you wonder what the hell is planned including weidman still under rehab. I just hope Silva doesn't pick any can opponent where he will be on autopilot all night dominating like crazy….

    • Avatar of Brian Cox

      Brian Cox

      January 25, 2013 at 1:49 am

      @ Enjoy

      Sadly 321, I fear everything you posted is true. :-(

      And I agree with your hope that Silva doesn't end up with an "auto-pilot" opponent. Your hope, goes hand-in-hand with my biggest fear, which is, that he'll set back, let everyone have "one or two" more fights and the division eats itself in the process.

      This division finally has some decent fighters now, including VB and his 3 fight divisional win streak and to think that these guys are going to one-by-one knock one another off, seems to be a waste of a lot of talent.

      Question – if Lombard puts Okami away, how many more fights does he have to get? He was a Bellator Champions, does that not count for anything? Yes, he lost his first fight by decision (won IMO), but with a win over Okami, what more does he have to prove? And why, as the president of The UFC, would you want to waste a decent challenger in a challenge starved division?

      And if all of that holds true, then why not Belfort and his 3 fight win streak, now?

      Anyway, I know you are right. It's not going to happen, but it still pisses me off. I truly do believe that VB deserves and has earned a re-match. And like a good number of people, I too, believe it would be a much, much better match and that Vitor would stand a good chance of winning. He looked awesome against Bisping. Maybe the best I've ever seen him.

  5. Avatar of MMAyor West

    MMAyor West

    January 25, 2013 at 1:20 am

    @ Codemaster

    I totally agree with your thoughts on the vitor vs rockhold fight but I dont think you can blame joe silva for belcher and boestch sliding back down the ladder. I think the ufc were actually trying to build depth in the division with those match ups. Both were favorites in their fights and if they had taken care of business like the contenders they were supposed to be, we still have 2 possible fights for the spider. By fighting each other at least 1 drops out of contention or possibly still both if they fight out an uninspiring split decision. If weidman wasnt injured I doubt any of this would matter because we would likely have a date set for him v spider. The reality is though if there was a middleweight out there banging the door down for a shot the ufc would make the fight, but there isnt. Hopefully this year we see lombard string some wins together, weidman come back strong, belfort and or rockhold continue on, maia submitting dudes impressively, phillipou to develop his overall mma game and throw in jacare as well. Suddenly the middleweight division is looking much more respectable. Too much to ask? Probably, but we can hope.

    P.S. Okami is the most unwatchable fighter in the ufc. He should be released immediately!!

  6. Avatar of MalcolmXtra

    MalcolmXtra

    January 25, 2013 at 6:27 am

    TRT abuser, no matter what the commission says.
    Free marijuana use as a natural pain killer.

    Which of the 2 enhances performance?

  7. Avatar of Camelux3000

    Camelux3000

    January 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Vitor vs Rockhold and Lombard vs Okami
    The winners of these two matches should fight each other for the number on contestant spot

    ps (specially if my boy Lombard demolishes Okami)

    • Avatar of Akordas

      Akordas

      January 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Oh boy I can't wait for Okami vs Lombard. My boy(Okami) vs your boy(Lombard)

      • Avatar of Brian Cox

        Brian Cox

        January 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

        @ Ak

        Okami / Lombard will be a great fight. I'm picking Vitor to win and another win, particularly over Okami, coming off a victory over Belcher, would be more evidence of his worthiness for a title shot.

        With that said, I'd say if Okami wins, he's only a fight or two away from another re-match. He looked good in his last fight and beat a great fighter, in Belcher. I hope, should he continue to win, that he doesn't get lost in the mix, simply because, he, like Belfort, also has a recent lost to Silva.

        May the best man win.

    • Avatar of KeithFarrell

      KeithFarrell

      January 25, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      @Camelux3000 perfect idea, my only problem is if Okami gets through them all he would probably get smashed by Anderson again easily but I feel he would be the least likely of the 4 to come out on top of the mini tournament.

  8. Avatar of Brian Cox

    Brian Cox

    January 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    @ Camel

    IMO if Lombard beats Okami and does so in devastating fashion, then he should get a fight with Silva. 2 solid wins with a dubious decision loss, which I thought he won, coupled with being a former Bellator Champion, should give him enough cache to earn the shot.

    I would much rather that, then see Lombard / Belfort or Rockhold. To me, that's just great fighters knocking one another off, while The Champ sits around and laughs at all of them.

  9. Avatar of Evan Holober

    Evan Holober

    January 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    If this happen, sure. I thought Rockhold was borderline top 5 or 6 when he beat Jacare. Same thing as Chandler beating Alvarez, and other instances of rather unknowns beating highly ranked guys in good fights. So him beating Belfort I think would automatically make him much more than just deserving.

    I hope it doesn't happen though, as Weidman-Silva should just happen in the Summer.

    (and I have a sneaking suspicion it's getting closer to being a possibility)

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