Luke Rockhold: Bisping needs to pay for calling himself 'unofficial Strikeforce champ'
Luke Rockhold added his name to a long list of middleweights that all want a shot at Michael Bisping, but he has personal reasons to go after the outspoken Brit following some comments made last year.
It appears Mr. Rockhold is holding a grudge against Michael Bisping.
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
By Damon Martin
Luke Rockhold said prior to his fight on Wednesday night against Costas Philippou that he'd rather not even talk about 2013 and just focus on the year ahead.
Those certainly ended up being prophetic words because Rockhold – unlike his lone performance in 2013 that ended in a loss and a knockout – came out guns blazing against Philippou and dusted off the top 10 ranked middleweight in the first round.
Rockhold landed a blistering body kick that crumbled Philippou ending the fight in dramatic fashion. Following the conclusion to the fight, Rockhold did manage to reference 2013 in one way because he stated emphatically that at some point down the road he wants to earn a rematch against Vitor Belfort, the man who handed him the loss last year.
Belfort is currently tied up awaiting his date with destiny against middleweight champion Chris Weidman later this year, so in the mean time Rockhold is happy to move onto other challenges. The name at the top of his list is Michael Bisping.
A lot of people are calling him out, but Bisping went on national TV and told everybody he's the unofficial Strikeforce champion. He calls it a joke, but I say he's got bad taste.
It wasn't long ago that Bisping scoffed at the idea of fighting Rockhold while telling MMA Uncensored Live that he was the 'unofficial Strikeforce champion' after a few sparring sessions the two fighters spent together apparently ended in a one sided decision. Now months later, Rockhold hasn't forgotten Bisping's words and he's ready to make him pay for them inside the Octagon.
"I already let it be known – Bisping's out there. A lot of people calling him out, but Bisping went on national TV and told everybody he's the unofficial Strikeforce champion. He calls it a joke, but I say he's got bad taste. He needs to pay for it," Rockhold said. "I'd like to get that match. He's a top five middleweight out there."
The biggest goal for Rockhold right now is staying busy after a tumultuous 2013 saw him only compete one time. Between the loss to Belfort and injuries that kept him out for the majority of the year, Rockhold is ready to get back to business fighting every few months until he clamps down on a UFC title shot.
"I'm looking forward to getting in there as soon as possible and having a good 2014," Rockhold said.
As for the possibility of facing Bisping that remains to be seen. The outspoken Brit never backs down from a challenge, but he's currently on the sidelines with an eye injury that nearly ended his career. Doctors have said he should be cleared to fight in the spring of 2014, but for now he is still rehabilitating and making sure he can return.
Once he's cleared to fight, however, a Rockhold vs. Bisping fight could be just what the UFC middleweight division ordered.