Rockhold: ‘I don’t think Vitor Belfort deserves anything, I wish nothing good for him’
Emotion can fuel a fighter, but sometimes it can also serve as a distraction.
UFC middleweight contender Luke Rockhold believes to this day the anger boiling over inside of him ahead of his debut in the Octagon against Vitor Belfort was still the biggest factor that cost him a loss.
Since that fight, Rockhold has learned to keep his emotions in check and it paid off in a big way in his last bout against Michael Bisping. Rockhold will be the first to say he didn’t like Bisping and there was definitely a grudge to settle, but when it actually came time to step in the cage, it was all about business.
"With the Bisping fight, I wasn’t really sweating it. Yeah, I played into it and wanted to sell a fight, I don’t like the guy, but you could see I wasn’t really sweating anything he said," Rockhold told FOX Sports on Thursday.
"I’m just not going to do it again. I was pissed off going into the Vitor fight. I felt like they had no respect for me or what I had done and in my debut to go fight Vitor Belfort on steroids in Brazil, I just felt they didn’t get behind me, didn’t back me. I went in there trying to beat him for so many reasons. I wanted to beat him for a clean sport and for my debut and having to be in Brazil. It was just a whole new scene."
I don’t think Vitor deserves anything. I wish nothing good for him. I think Weidman’s the better fighter and I think he’s going to go out there and win.
— Luke Rockhold
Rockhold faces Lyoto Machida in the main event of FOX UFC Fight Night in New Jersey on Saturday night, but there’s no overwhelming feeling of emotion for him going into this fight outside of the desire to earn a title shot with a win.
Current middleweight champion Chris Weidman is scheduled to meet Belfort at UFC 187 and the winner of that fight would be Rockhold’s next opponent if he gets a crack at the belt.
Rockhold doesn’t really care who comes out on top as long as he gets the winner, but he’s not going to hide his disdain for Belfort as the fight approaches in May. There’s always going to be some part of him that wants to avenge the previous loss, but Rockhold will never root for Belfort in any fight even if it means he’ll get to face him again.
"I don’t think Vitor deserves anything. I wish nothing good for him," Rockhold said. "I think Weidman’s the better fighter and I think he’s going to go out there and win. If Vitor were to win, sure it would be sweet to go out there and get my revenge and take the title from him, of course."
As Rockhold prepares to face Machida on Saturday night, he’s also keeping it in the back of his mind that with a win he might even get to fight at UFC 187 because there’s some part of him that still can’t fully believe the fight between Weidman and Belfort is going to happen.
The fight has been delayed for over a year already and Rockhold says if all goes well this weekend, he’s going to stay ready just in case the UFC needs him in a pinch.
"It’s fell apart three times already. I’m not holding to it right now," Rockhold said. "Scary thing is I’m probably going to have to stay in shape after this fight just in case something happens. I want to see it. I’m very curious to see how Vitor looks and Weidman’s the champ, so I’m very curious to see how it all plays out, but I’m still fingers crossed."
The action kicks off live on FOX starting at 6pm ET with the FOX UFC Fight Night prelims before the main card starts at8pm ET with FOX UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Rockhold.