Former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold secured his first victory inside the Octagon Wednesday night over Costa Philippou at UFC Fight Night 35.
Rockhold, who was stopped by Vitor Belfort last year, did the same to Philippou in the main event, earning a first round TKO win.
“I was being patient and finding my timing,” said Rockhold, during the FOX Sports 1 post-fight show. “I landed the right-hook and landed the kick.
“I love the liver kick.”
Philippou buckled from the strike and referee Herb Dean quickly stepped in, allowing Rockhold to celebrate for the first time since 2012 when he successfully defended his Strikeforce middleweight title vs. Tim Kennedy.
Immediately following the victory, you could hear Rockhold (11-2) screaming into the Octagon-side cameras for a rematch with Belfort. While that could be a few fights off, there is another fighter sitting out there on the mind of the AKA-trained competitor.
“I came here to be the best,” he said. “I want to be great – not good. I need to redeem myself and fight Vitor Belfort.
“There’s also Michael Bisping. A lot of guys call him out. He says he’s the ‘unofficial’ Strikeforce champion; he calls it a joke, I call it poor taste.”
Prior to Rockhold and several other Strikeforce fighters signing with the UFC, Bisping noted that he got the better of Rockhold during a training session. That was “The Count’s” way of saying he felt the “newbies” didn’t deserve an immediate crack at the UFC title.
Bisping has been embroiled in a verbal feud with Kennedy, another former Strikeforce competitor, for several months now. As expected, the Brit immediately had a response on Twitter.
“Luke Rockhold congrats on the win,” he wrote. “Still hurt over me telling the truth about how I handled your ass that time? Join the queue big fella.”
At least one noted observer was impressed with Rockhold in UFC president Dana White.
“Guys come in from other organizations and it takes some time to get their rhythm and he’s got his rhythm now,” White stated. “Luke is one of the top five in the world and he’s got some big fights ahead of him.”
Who would you prefer to see Rockhold fight next? Bisping? Or maybe fellow UFC Fight Night winner Brad Tavares?