Luke Rockhold wants Vitor Belfort, UFC vs. Strikeforce theme at UFC on FOX 7
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If the UFC wants to put together a champion-vs.-champion fight, final Strikeforce middleweight titleholder Luke Rockhold is down for a matchup with UFC champ Anderson Silva.
But if Rockhold gets his wish, April's UFC on FOX 7 event at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., could have a pretty interesting theme.
"There aren't a lot of fights that make a lot of sense right now," he today told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
). "Obviously (Chris) Weidman is injured, and he's out until summer or fall. But Vitor (Belfort) looked pretty good the other night. He turned back the clock and looked like his old self. He's a legend, and I'd be honored to fight the guy. I think that makes a lot of sense."
This past weekend, Belfort returned to the middleweight division and spoiled Michael Bisping's title shot with a vicious second-round knockout. But rather than campaign for a rematch with middleweight champ Silva, Belfort instead focused on light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who defeated him this past September.
However, with Belfort (22-10 MMA, 11-6 UFC) unlikely to get his Jones rematch anytime soon, he needs a high-profile middleweight opponent. Enter Rockhold (10-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC).
The Californian said he's talked to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva about some possibilities in the division, but with recent losses from contenders such as Alan Belcher and Tim Boetsch – and another desired opponent, Hector Lombard, scheduled to fight Yushin Okami in March – it's slim pickings.
"But now Belfort won, and he makes sense," Rockhold said. "Lombard could be down the line too. Who knows? I just want to fight. Truthfully, Belfort probably makes the most unless they want to do a champion vs. champion fight (with Silva). But I'm game for whatever they want."
Rockhold, who said he's again training at 100 percent after his recovery from a recent wrist injury, will be ready to go by April. The month already has three UFC events scheduled, including UFC on FOX 7. That April 20 event already features two former Strikeforce fighters, including headliner Gilbert Melendez and noted heavyweight Daniel Cormier (who face UFC Benson Henderson and Frank Mir, respectively).
So why not continue the theme, Rockhold asked?
"I'd love to fight on that card," he said. "I'm from the Bay Area, and there's nothing I'd like more than to make my UFC debut in the Bay Area with all my fans. I'd bring all of Santa Cruz and a lot more. Trust me, we'd pack that place."
So why does he feel he and the other Strikeforce fighters feel like they have something to prove?
"I mean, how could we not?" he said. "We've been dealing with it for quite a while now. There are a lot of nuthuggers out there – UFC nuthuggers. I'd like to come in there and make a splash, and just like everyone else, let's represent the name. Personally, with this card and San Jose being the home of Strikeforce, this being a big FOX card, and we just shut down Strikeforce, let's just do an all-UFC-vs.-Strikeforce card.
"I think that makes a lot of sense and there could be a lot of hype behind that. Then we can really keep score."
Still if an immediate title shot is in the cards, Rockhold's in.
"I really don't care," he said. "A warmup fight would be nice. I'm not going to lie. Anderson Silva, I'm not sure that would make the most sense right now. My name may not be as big as they want to sell a big pay-per-view like that. But if they want that fight, I'm down to take the fight. I'd take it, no questions asked."