In June of 2016, an overconfident Luke Rockhold was knocked out by Michael Bisping in one of the year’s biggest upsets. This massive upset loss marked the end of what looked like it could have been a pretty dominant reign as UFC middleweight champ.
Later that year, Rockhold was given the opportunity to bounce back from this ugly loss when he was scheduled for a rematch with top middleweight contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who he bested back in 2011. Regrettably, Rockhold sustained a leg injury in training, and was forced out of this fight. He has not been seen in action since.
While he’s been absent, however, Rockhold has been keeping a close eye on the middleweight division. Apparently, he’s not thrilled about the way things are unfolding in the division.
On Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour, Rockhold explained his belief that Bisping his a “coward” who is picking and choosing his fights, and slowing the evolution of the division as a result.
“I haven’t seen much movement in the division, honestly,” he said. “I think Bisping is a coward and he’s running and trying to get irrelevant fights and I think Jacare is right where he was before I left.”
Luke Rockhold then explained that he has no concrete timeframe for his return, but that the coming July seems to make sense. When he does return, he’d like to take on Jacare, who recently suggested Rockhold withdrew from their fight because he was scared.
“Jacare says I’m running, he wants to stay relevant, he wants to stay in the fight game, not wait around. He’ll have to wait a while [for a title shot] given the current situation, so I’d love to go in there and fix that situation and finish my business with that man.”
“If the time works for him, I think that July timeframe, International Fight Week [in July], it plays nicely for me. I want ‘Jacare,’ I’m not looking to dance around. I’m going straight through the gut of the division back to my title.”
Finally, Rockhold weighed in on Jacare’s recent first-round submission of Tim Boetsch. He was not particularly impressed by this win.
“I didn’t see anything from ‘Jacare.’ I think he’s slow, I think he’s stiff and I think he forces the fight as to where I flow with the fight. I haven’t seen him grow since I fought him. I know that I had a little fall back, but I will bounce back and show people that it wasn’t what you will see in the future, I will reset and put that man away.”
Who do you think Luke Rockhold should fight when he returns to action? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/14/2017.