Luke Rockhold is one of a couple champions currently reigning on top in Strikeforce with the list of potential contenders dwindling down in a hurry.
Since capturing the title in 2011 with a win over Ronaldo “Jacare”‘ Souza, Rockhold has dispatched of both Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy in relatively dominant fashion, but with the roster of top 185-pound talent currently residing in Strikeforce, future options seem limited.
Rockhold has long rallied for a fight with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, so he had to be giddy with excitement when the reigning Octagon king’s management mentioned his name as a fight they’d be interested in as well.
“It feels real good hearing that from Anderson Silva’s camp. I wish we could make that happen. Of course that’s what I want. I want to be the best and to be the best you’ve got to beat the best. Anderson Silva’s the best fighter in the world. It feels good him taking notice and seeing me out there,” Rockhold said in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
“I feel like that’s a fight I could win.”
Despite Silva’s name dropping and Rockhold’s desire for the same fight, no one get their hopes up because the fight won’t be happening.
At least not for the next 18 months, because so long as Strikeforce is airing on Showtime, the fighters bound to Strikeforce contracts can either be Strikeforce fighters or bolt to another organization not named the UFC. It’s also safe to say Silva won’t be vacating the UFC for Strikeforce either just to shoot down any idea of that happening.
So with that fight off the table, what match-ups interest Rockhold for his future in Strikeforce?
Well, the most likely candidate will be former champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who competes on Aug. 18 against Derek Brunson, as he looks for his second consecutive win since losing the title to Rockhold in 2011.
If Souza can get past Brunson, it’s likely he will be the next fighter to sign on to face Rockhold in the Strikeforce cage.
“There’s a couple tough guys and more than capable of challenging me, so I’ve got to be on my game and keep improving,” Rockhold said about the middleweights in Strikeforce.
“I’ve already fought (Jacare) and it’s probably not the smartest decision to want to fight him again, but at the same time Jacare, he’s the best in the division. From what I feel, he’s the most well rounded fighter and he’s the toughest guy there. Like I’ve always said, I want the toughest guys I can get, and if that’s all I can get right now, that’s what I want.”
In a perfect world, Rockhold would be facing Anderson Silva next, but since that fight has already been eliminated from possibly happening, he’s still holding out some hope that the UFC might send one of their top middleweights to Strikeforce to challenge him.
For the first time ever the UFC is sending a fighter over to Strikeforce as Frank Mir will challenge Daniel Cormier later this year. Now granted after that fight both Mir and Cormier will exit the promotion and head back over to the UFC, but it could still be seen as a welcome mat being put out for any other competitors who would like to test their mettle in Strikeforce.
Rockhold looks at one guy in particular that he’d love to face if he’d be willing to come to Strikeforce and challenge him.
“UFC wise, who’s out there that they would let go that would actually allow a crossover? Cause you know certain guys you know they wouldn’t, but there’s certain guys that they might,” said Rockhold.
“Tim Boetsch looked pretty good last weekend. He just beat the Bellator champion, let’s see if he can come beat the Strikeforce champion.”
It would definitely be an interesting match-up if Boetsch did want to challenge Rockhold in Strikeforce. Right now “The Barbarian” is healing up a possible broken foot suffered in his UFC 149 bout against former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard.
It’s hard to say if any UFC middleweight will jump at the chance to face Rockhold in Strikeforce, but either way he’s going to keep moving forward and taking whatever challenges come his way.
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