Luke Rockhold doesn’t agree with the No. 3-ranked Anthony Smith getting the next crack at Jon Jones’ light heavyweight title.
Rockhold, a former Strikeforce middleweight champion, seems to be done with the 185-pound division. He has been hinting at that very thing for the past several months. Injuries prevented Rockhold from competing most of 2018 but the American Kickboxing Academy fighter appears ready to return to action this year.
As for when Rockhold does finally make his debut in the light heavyweight division, he’s aiming for early April. What does not seem clear, however, is whom he will be facing. Several of the top light heavyweights currently have fights scheduled, but he only wants to battle one of the best.
“I was shooting for late March, but we’re looking like early April now,” Rockhold said on The MMA Hour. “It just depends on what opponents fall where they may. I know Jon really wanted another fight really quick, for some reason. So he got this Anthony Smith fight [at UFC 235], so we’ll see.
“I know a couple of the other top guys are matched up. I think Thiago Santos and Jan Blachowicz [are matched up]. Corey Anderson looked decent the other night [at UFC 232] too. I’m looking for a top guy.”
Having already reached the heights of the middleweight division, Rockhold believes he will have a much easier time ascending his new home. Saying the division was “there for the taking” on social media.
“Anthony Smith just got a title shot,” mocked Rockhold. “He couldn’t sniff a top 10 at middleweight… [Smith’s fight against Jones] will be over in the less than a round. That’s why I don’t understand why they made this fight.”
Never one to bite his tongue, Rockhold did not hold back when addressing his fellow-205-pound-fighters.
“[Anderson] could last a few rounds maybe [against Jones],” said Rockhold. “I think Jan is probably one the toughest guys there. Just a tough durable guy. Not very skilled in so many ways, but durable.”
Rockhold then turned his attention to three-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson. The former Strikeforce and UFC champ gave Gus credit but it looks like Rockhold no longer has a desire to fight the Swedish fighter. Rockhold is taking a much more strategic approach to his matchmaking.
“Alex is decent,” said Rockhold. “He obviously has some holes in his game on the ground. So, we’ll see where it lies. We’ll see where he falls back in and what the UFC wants to do. Obviously, I want to fight a guy on his way to the title and make a statement. But, it just depends on what falls. There’s a few options. We’re talking to the UFC and we’ll see. We’ll see what falls on the right date. I’m looking for one fight to put me where I need to be.”