Luke Rockhold's last fight had to be weighing on his mind when he stepped into the Octagon to face Costa Philippou on Wednesday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night 35. That fight, a spinning wheel kick knockout loss to Vitor Belfort marked Rockhold's UFC debut. It turns out, that in addition to Belfort, Rockhold had another UFC middleweight on his mind, none other than Michael Bisping.
Rockhold took a huge step toward putting the highlight reel loss to Belfort behind him by stopping Philippou in the first round with two heavy kicks to the body. The TKO victory earned Rockhold his 11th victory in 13 tries as a professional, and a nice $50,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night. At the post-fight press conference, Rockhold said of the knockout, "Just come back and make my own highlights and be on the right side of it, and that's what I came here for."
With that, Rockhold seemingly put the Belfort chapter behind him, at least until he gets the rematch he called for in his post-fight in-cage interview. Knowing that Belfort is likely going to face UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman next, Rockhold said in that same interview that it "would be nice" face Bisping.
Bisping, the No. 5 ranked fighter in the middleweight division, has grown accustomed to fighters calling him out. Sometimes those call outs seem to come from thin air, other times the callouts are based on history. In Rockhold's case, there is some history there.
In late 2012, Bisping appeared on MMA Uncensored Live and said of Rockhold, who at the time was the middleweight champion in Strikeforce, "Let me put it like this. I've sparred with Luke Rockhold recently and let's just say, I'm the unofficial Strikeforce champion. Sorry Luke, but these are the facts."
That statement seems to have stuck in Rockhold's craw since then. At the post-fight press conference, Rockhold said, "A lot of people are calling him out, but Bisping went on national TV and told everyone that he was the unofficial Strikeforce champion. He called it a joke, and this and that. I say he's got bad taste, and he needs to pay for it. So, I'd like to get that match."
Bisping is on the mend from eye surgery and is looking to return to the Octagon in April or May, possibly against No. 9 ranked Tim Kennedy. Rockhold was ranked No. 6 in the division prior to his TKO win over Philippou on Wednesday night
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- UFC Fight Night 35 results: Luke Rockhold vs. Costa Philippou full fight video highlights
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- UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Philippou - Results and post-fight analysis