When 26-year-old Kiwi Robert Whittaker took out long-time middleweight contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on the main card of the UFC’s recent trip to Kansas City, he caught the attention of every other middleweight on the UFC. No middleweights, however, seem to be quite as interested in the young New Zealander as former champ Luke Rockhold, who has been vocal in his desire to fight him this summer.
“How about Bobby Knuckles,” he said. “Boy is looking good. You Aussie’s got something to believe in right now. He’s looking fresh, looking tight, and I think we make a lot of sense right now. The kid wants to get his title shot; there’s a long list of guys in line right now and I’m looking to get back at it so I don’t see anything better. I appreciate the competition. I like what the kid’s done and I want to test him, I want to test myself and get back at it.”
Rockhold then explained that, while he’s keen to fight Whittaker based on his obvious skill, part of the reason for his interest in the Kiwi can also be stacked up to the fact that nobody else is available.
“I’ve been looking for a fight between all these guys. I’m not necessarily calling him out, we’re running out of opponents. Anderson Silva declined to fight. Other guys are out of the mix. Yoel [Romero] is waiting for an interim title or the real title. I need to reestablish myself and he looked good so…”
From there, Rockhold expressed interest in a fight with the streaking contender Romero, who has been deprived of a long-awaited title shot by the UFC’s choice to pit middleweight champ Michael Bisping against former welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre.
“Romero wants that interim title, I know that for a fact and he’s not going to fight anybody else so if that comes to be, I’d gladly fight Yoel,” he said. “That’s [the] one and two [ranked fighters]. One and two should fight for it, if that’s the case. The champion should fight one but if one and two are fighting, it should be an interim title, a guarantee that we’re gonna fight for the title next.”
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This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/20/2017.