The UFC has been actively booking former Strikeforce stars recently freed up to fight as the result of their previous professional home going under. Two of the most significant scraps put together thus far involve Gilbert Melendez and Daniel Cormier, both of whom will compete on April 20 at UFC on FOX 7. Now, another one of the failed promotion’s top dogs is looking to duke it out with an opponent at the event in hopes the UFC will give the lot a chance to show Strikeforce fighters belong in the Octagon.
According to Strikeforce’s middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, he is tired of being viewed as a second-rate Mixed Martial Artist just because his success came on a smaller stage. And, as he pointed out to MMAJunkie, he’d love to take on a top contender to prove his doubters wrong.
“We’ve been dealing with it for quite a while now,” said Rockhold of the lack of respect Strikeforce fighters often get from fans. “There are a lot of nuthuggers out there – UFC nuthuggers. I’d like to come in there and make a splash, and just like everyone else, let’s represent the name. Personally, with this card and San Jose being the home of Strikeforce, this being a big FOX card, and we just shut down Strikeforce, let’s just do an all UFC vs. Strikeforce card. I think that makes a lot of sense and there could be a lot of hype behind that. Then we can really keep score.”
In terms of opponents, Rockhold pointed to Vitor Belfort based on the Brazilian’s recent knockout of Michael Bisping, though he also said he’d be fine with facing champ Anderson Silva too even if he’d prefer a warm-up fight first.
“Belfort won, and he makes sense. Lombard could be down the line too. Who knows? I just want to fight. Truthfully, Belfort probably makes the most unless they want to do a champion vs. champion fight. But I’m game for whatever they want,” offered Rockhold on the topic.
The 10-1 Rockhold won eight fights under the Strikeforce banner including those against Keith Jardine, Tim Kennedy, and Ronaldo Souza. He has been out of action since July due to injury but is now said to be 100% and training at full speed in anticipation of his UFC debut.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC