The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight division has been on hold for quite a bit because of Michael Bisping’s bum knee. In fact, there hasn’t been an undisputed 185-pound title fight since Oct. 2016, which was “The Count’s” first and only title defense since winning the title against Luke Rockhold earlier that year.
And since Bisping received his much-desired “big money” fight against Georges St- Pierre — which is set to go down at UFC 217 on Nov. 4, 2017, in New York, N.Y. — other true division contenders have had to settle for interim title fights until Bisping and “GSP” throw down.
Now, Rockhold intends to make it right once again since he feels responsible for letting the weight class get out of control that fateful night at UFC 199.
“I created this mess and I’m coming back to clean it up,” Rockhold said during a recent interview with Flo Combat. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do. Mark my words.”
The former champion has had a bitter history with Bisping, whom he defeated in 2014 via submission. And now that the brash Brit is sitting atop the division, Rockhold feels he hasn’t done enough to be called champ.
“I’m not in this game to play second fiddle to anyone,” Rockhold said. “I’m coming back to reclaim that top spot and take back the division. That’s who I am and what I’m all about. I’m in this to be the champion and not just going in to pick up a paycheck. I’m here to get back in the mix and take out the fucking chump who is at the top. He’s not the champ … he’s a chump.
“Defending your title is the sign of a true champion right?” he continued. “I mean that’s what they always say. It’s fucking 100 times harder to come back and regain your title and I’m going to show people I’m a real champion in that fashion.”
Still, Rockhold says he only has himself to blame and plans to rectify it moving forward.
“I put myself in this position,” he added. “I’ve been out for a long time and on top of it I slipped and stumbled in my last fight to where people are doubting me. I still have some true believers, but a lot of people think I don’t have what it takes. I’m going to come back to the division and win the title.”
Rockhold’s march back to the big dance begins on Sept. 16 when he takes on former two-division World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champion David Branch in the main event of UFC Fight Night 116.
And by the sound of it, Rockhold isn’t all that impressed with Branch.
“To be honest I really don’t know much about [Branch],” Rockhold said. “I’ve watched him fight a couple times. He tries to act hard like he’s from Brooklyn, but dude fights like he’s from The Hamptons. He’s a technical fighter, but I’m going to beat him everywhere. I’m going to make the man fight and it’s not going to take long for him to realize how outclassed he is in there.”