Luke Rockhold’s first title defense isn’t yet set, but while he’s wanted a rematch with Vitor Belfort, it seems the UFC may actually be going a different route.
In an interview with FoxSports.com this week, Rockhold said the leading choices from the UFC’s perspective are Chris Weidman and Yoel Romero, and it seems the Weidman rematch may be the pick as the former champion’s been hounding the organization for a second fight with Rockhold.
“We’ve talked and from what I see there’s a couple of fights on the table – there’s Yoel Romero and there’s Chris Weidman,” Rockhold said. “I think Chris Weidman, he’s been the longtime reigning champion, I know he’s begging for a shot. He’s been harassing Dana [White] from what I understand since the day after the fight and I’m not opposed to giving him what he wants if he really likes it.
“Yoel Romero, he had his opportunity to go show up and earn a title shot and I think he underperformed. I want a guy the fans are going to demand and want. Unfortunately he couldn’t fight the second and the third round. This is about selling a fight and making money and it’s business. As much as I want to go out and fight whoever, this is a long training camp, it’s a championship training camp and I want to do it for the right fight, the right paycheck and the right time.”
The rematch may not seem all that necessary given how one-sided their fight at UFC 194 was, but Rockhold believes even in victory he wasn’t at his best, and would be happy to run it again.
“100 percent, I’m fine with that,” Rockhold said about the Weidman rematch. “I don’t need extra motivation. Someone’s coming for me from the other side of the world, other side of the country, wherever they’re at – they’re coming to take what I’ve earned, my spot, something I’ve worked for my whole life, it’s more motivation for me.
“I’ve got a lot to prove and I’m out there to reach my potential and I’m far from that. I’m out there to go put on a flawless performance. I’m not happy with my performance against Chris so if we’re going to do it again, I’m going to go out there looking to execute and be perfect next time… I want to make a statement to where he never wants to come back and fight me again. That’s what I’m looking to do every time.”
Penick’s Analysis: Given Romero’s less than stellar victory over Jacare Souza, it’s not surprising that he’s not a first choice pick for Rockhold’s next fight, but outside of Rockhold and Weidman themselves, I’m not sure who cares to see the immediate rematch. The fight was brutally one-sided, and not at all the type of fight that necessitates a rematch. On top of that, while Weidman’s wins over Anderson Silva certainly give him some type of clout as former champ, his run wasn’t long enough or dominant enough to make it a necessity, either. Still, Belfort’s not deserving of that title fight, and Romero’s not all that interesting right now either, so if they don’t want to give Rockhold his first choice, Weidman makes at least some amount of sense.
[Photo (c) Gary A. Vasquez via USA Today Sports]
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