After No. 8-ranked middleweight Michael Bisping got back in the win column with an impressive fourth round stoppage of Cung Le in the main event of last Saturday’s (August 23, 2014) UFC Fight Night 48 from Macau, China, “The Count” immediately continued his war of words with No. 5-ranked Rockhold.
Bisping and Rockhold have a bit of a history dating back to a sparring session that Bisping said made him the “unofficial Strikeforce champion.” Their talk extended into quite the drawn out back-and-forth, leading to the belief that Rockhold would forego his previously discussed bout with No. 3-ranked Lyoto Machida.
Tonight, however, that appears that all the trash talk will not stop Rockhold from fighting “The Dragon,” as Dana White revealed on UFC.com that the promotion is still targeting Rockhold vs. Machida for later this year in Brazil:
“We’re looking at Rockhold-Machida in Brazil. That’s what we’re looking at. Anything is possible. Michael Bisping is ranked number eight in the world. Rockhold is number five,” he said. “They’ll meet each other anyway eventually, but Rockhold has got Machida first.”
With Rockhold having steamrolled over Costa Philippou and Tom Boetsch with ease this year, a bout with Machida probably makes more sense. Bisping no doubt looked impressive in defeating Cung Le, but the former Strikeforce was coming off a lengthy layoff and is 42 years old.
“The Count’s” last fight against Tim Kennedy at April’s The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Nations Finale in April didn’t play out so well, as Bisping was outwrestled by No. 6-ranked “Sniper.” And Machida just got through giving middleweight champion Chris Weidman a close battle the main event of UFC 175 on July 5.
Speaking of Weidman, the champ appeared on UFC Tonight last night, stating his opinion that he didn’t think a win over Le constituted a shot at the rising Rockhold. It looks like the UFC took the champ’s words to heart, and the prospect of a huge middleweight main event in Brazil obviously swayed the decision as well.
If former Strikeforce champion Rockhold can get past former light heavyweight champion Machida, we’ll know that he’s truly ready for a shot at gold. A finish would likely earn him a bout against the winner of UFC 181’s Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort title fight.
What a scenario it would be if Rockhold got his rematch with “The Phenom” for the belt.
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