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Luke Rockhold thanks Belfort for KO'ing him but wants to 'kill' him in rematch

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Newly-crowned UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold says his loss to Vitor Belfort made him a better fighter.

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It's been two years since Luke Rockhold made his UFC debut and was knocked out by Vitor Belfort. Since then, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion went on to beat a who's who of 185 lbs. contenders before challenging Chris Weidman for the official championship at UFC 194.

Rockhold fought back and forth with Weidman before asserting his dominance towards the end of round three. The 31-year-old earned the TKO stoppage in the fourth to capture the title.

The loss to Belfort, Rockhold says, was instrumental in his transformation as a fighter.

"All the weight came on my shoulders at that time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me," Rockhold said on the Fighter and The Kid podcast. "If you look at how I carried myself after that fight and how much better I've gotten from that, I was a kid then and I matured so much more in and outside the cage. That fight was everything to me. I'm so thankful I got kicked in the head. Thank you (Belfort), thank you but I'm gonna fucking kill you."

"The Phenom" succumbed to Weidman in the 1st round at UFC 187 but rebounded with a head kick knockout of Dan Henderson last month. Shortly after Rockhold's win over "The All-American" last week, Belfort called the champion out on Instagram and claimed he was "still spinning" from the heel kick he landed at UFC on FX 8.

It's expected that Rockhold's first title defense will be against the surging Yoel Romero, while Belfort is likely to face a top contender before earning another crack at the title.

(Transcription via MMA Mania)