Upon his announcement of his move up to light heavyweight, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold wanted a fight against Jon Jones. Instead, the current 205-pound title holder was booked to face Anthony Smith for his first defense since reclaiming the belt at UFC 232 in December.
Smith stamped himself as a viable light heavyweight contender last year with wins over veterans Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua, and a Performance of the Night victory over Volkan Oezdemir three months ago. Yet, despite these accomplishments, Rockhold is not impressed by the number three-ranked contender.
“Anthony Smith just got a title shot,” Rockhold said on a recent episode of the MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting). “He couldn’t sniff a top 10 at middleweight... [Smith’s fight against Jones] will be over in the less than a round. That’s why I don’t understand why they made this fight.”
“[Corey Anderson] could last a few rounds maybe [against Jones]. I think Jan is probably one the toughest guys there. Just a tough durable guy. Not very skilled in so many ways, but durable.”
As for his own schedule, Rockhold still wants to fight within the first half of the year, as long as its against the top-ranked opponent.
“I was shooting for late March, but we’re looking like early April now. It just depends on what opponents fall where they may. I know Jon really wanted another fight really quick, for some reason. So he got this Anthony Smith fight [at UFC 235], so we’ll see.
“I know a couple of the other top guys are matched up. I think Thiago Santos and Jan Blachowicz [are matched up]. Corey Anderson looked decent the other night [at UFC 232] too. I’m looking for a top guy.”
Rockhold will be an interested spectator when Jones and Smith fight it out at UFC 235 on March 2nd in Las Vegas.