Luke Rockhold did what he was supposed to do on Saturday night. He beat an opponent in Keith Jardine that he was expected to handle.
But after the Strikeforce middleweight champ made a statement with his first-round TKO of the former UFC star, Rockhold made another statement that’s resonated throughout just about every MMA blog on the Internet.
“Right now all the best guys in the world at middleweight are in the UFC,” Rockhold said, according to Yahoo Sports. “Those are the guys I want. I want to fight the best in the world. I think they should bring over some top contenders. I believe I am one of the top guys and I want to take on the best.”
Reading between the lines, many feel Rockhold’s comments are saying that he doesn’t want to be a part of Strikeforce and that he’s ignoring middleweight challengers Tim Kennedy (who was an expected opponent before getting injured), Robbie Lawler (who defeated Adian Amagov on Saturday night) and Ronaldo Souza (who Rockhold defeated in September for the middleweight belt).
I haven’t spoken with Rockhold since the fight, but can you blame his comments? Although I don’t necessarily see this as a complete abandonment of Strikeforce, it’s the goal of just about every MMA fighter to eventually reach UFC — this is not news.
Furthermore, of course he wants to fight the best in the world — he just defended his middleweight title for the first time against a 36-year-old light heavyweight. What does that say about the depth in the weight class, when a contender (Kennedy) gets injured and the next best option is a fighter coming off a draw?
UFC would never allow its fighters to go to Strikeforce, though. So it will be interesting to see how Strikeforce handles Rockhold’s next fight, which should come against Kennedy or Lawler, or at least Souza. It will also be interesting to see how they handle Rockhold when its contract with Showtime is up.