Last night, on the main card of UFC on Fox 24, Australia-based Kiwi Robert Whittaker stepped onto the canvas with former Strikeforce middleweight king Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The bout marked the biggest test of the 26 year old Whittaker’s career.
Despite the scale of this test, Whittaker passed it with flying colors. First, he reversed an early Jacare takedown, and escaped back to his feet – something very few middleweights have been able to do against the dangerous BJJ whiz. From there, Whittaker began to pick his foe apart on the feet, dropping him once with a punch, and ultimately polishing him off with a head-kick and a storm of followup ground strikes.
Just like that, Whittaker is one of the hottest contenders in the middleweight division, and one of the most deserving men of a shot at Michael Bisping’s middleweight crown.
Given that Bisping is currently tied up with a yet-unscheduled fight with former welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, however, Whittaker will probably have to take another fight before any title shot materializes. And as luck would have it, he’s already being courted by another of the division’s top contenders: recent champion Luke Rockhold.
Rockhold expressed his interested in a bout with Whittaker through journalist Ariel Helwani, suggesting he’d like this potential fight to happen at UFC 213 this July 8.
Former middleweight champion @LukeRockhold just reached out to me to say he's down to fight Robert Whittaker at UFC 213 on July 8.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 16, 2017
Rockhold has not been seen in the cage since he surrendered the middleweight title to Bisping in June of 2016, succumbing to first-round strikes in one of the years biggest upsets. He was briefly scheduled for a November 2016 comeback fight with Jacare, but this bout fell through when he sustained an injury in training.
With his defeat of Jacare, Whittaker moved to 6-0 since jumping to the middleweight division. In his next most recent bout, Whittaker punished an overaggressive Derek Brunson to a first-round TKO.
Are you interested in a Luke Rockhold vs. Robert Whittaker fight? Who do you think would come out on top? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/16/2017.