For some reason, there hasn't been a lot of hype around the upcoming match up between what might prove to be the two best MW fighters in the world NOT named Anderson Silva. The last Strikeforce Champion, Luke Rockhold, will meet his stiffest test to date when he gets into the Octagon for the very first time against Vitor Belfort next Saturday.
One of the reasons that I am excited about this match up is for the lineal title implications. For those of you who may be less familiar with the concept of lineal titles, the idea is to begin with the very first instance of a given promotion's title and follow it through to present day. The key difference with a lineal title is that it is not bound by promotion. So, once a fighter leaves an organization, he takes the title with him.
One thing to note is that I only include fights that take place within the weight class of the title being traced. What this means, in some cases, is that a fighter can lose at a different weight class without losing the lineal title. A good example is Gegard Mousasi, who still owns the Dream Middleweight title despite losing at Light Heavyweight. If he chooses to drop back down to MW, he will be putting that Dream title back on the line.
Unlike the Henderson - Melendez fight, this is NOT a unification bout. However, it's significant in that Luke Rockhold does hold 4 lineal titles and, with a win, could put himself into position to unify against Anderson Silva.
Below is a list of all the Middleweight titles that are at stake Saturday night and how they arrived at Luke Rockhold:
History: Suda > Vitale > Lawler > Mayhem > Trigg > Lawler > Souza > Luke Rockhold
2. Ring of Combat
History: Bradley > Luke Rockhold
History: Rua > Lawler > Souza > Luke Rockhold
4. IconSport (formerly Superbrawl)
History: Inoue > Suda > Vitale > Lawler > Mayhem > Trigg > Lawler > Souza > Luke Rockhold
- Shooto titles are the hardest to track because the very earliest iterations were not reliably contested at consistent weight classes. This is the case with the MW title. Therefore, the title that Rockhold currently owns is actually the 2nd iteration of the title. It should also be noted that there are a number of losses at a higher weight that are not counted in this lineage. The same losses are excluded for the EliteXC title and the IconSport title.
- The Ring of Combat title excludes a Paul Bradley loss to Mike Pierce contested at Welterweight
And, here is a look at the bigger picture of Lineal titles in the Middleweight division:
Lineal Title Leaderboard:
Lastly, here is a teaser of something new I'm working on. I actually got the idea from the BE community. There seems to be some interest in tracking titles from defunct organizations from the last fighter to ever hold the belt to where they are today. This is, of course, different then what I've presented above, but interesting in it's own way.
Here's what it looks like for the MW division. Yet another reason for excitement leading into Rockhold vs. Belfort. I'll post something bigger including all weight classes once I have the entire picture figured out: