On Sept. 10, 2011, Luke Rockhold won a hard-fought, five-round victory over Ronaldo Souza at Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Kharitonov" in Cincinnati, Ohio, to become the Strikeforce middleweight champion.
Before his victory over "Jacare," Rockhold wasn't garnering a ton of media attention, due in large part to the fact he hadn't really fought any big mixed martial arts (MMA) names.
Last night in "Sin City," Rockhold made short work of Jardine, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran, showing fans and pundits alike that he's for real.
After the jump, we'll take a look at what may be next for one of the few remaining Strikeforce belt holders, Luke Rockhold:
"Business as usual."
The phrase, uttered by UFC President Dana White after the Zuffa purchase of Strikeforce, will forever go down in mixed martial arts (MMA) infamy. The inference was that everything would stay the same, more or less. The UFC would do its thing and Strikeforce would do theirs.
Fair enough. But, a few months later, things feel anything but "usual."
Former Strikeforce champions Alistair Overeem, Nick Diaz and Dan Henderson have all crossed over to the UFC fold. Other Strikeforce contenders Jason Miller, Fabricio Werdum and Chad Griggs have also made the transition.
The truth is that MMA fans thought Strikeforce would be gone by now. However, Strikeforce's recent contract extension with Showtime has a lot of folks scratching their heads and wondering what the future may hold for the promotion.
So the question becomes: Will Rockhold want to stay put or will he join the mass exodus over to the Octagon?
Before his fight with Jardine, Rockhold made waves by publicly calling out UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. It's highly unlikely that Rockhold would be able to garner a fight of that magnitude, even if he did sign with the UFC. In the event that the "acquisition" did occur, it's probable that Rockhold would be a few fights away from a title bout.
After his win, Rockhold told Mauro Ranallo in his post-victory interview that he wants to fight the best middleweights in the world. He went on to say that he believes the best competition currently exists in the UFC.
With somewhat of a curveball, Rockhold, then, went on to say he believes they need to bring some of those guys over from the UFC to fight him in the Strikeforce promotion.
That's not happening.
The truth is that there really aren't many compelling match ups left for Rockhold in Strikeforce. A rematch with "Jacare" could be fun, but there isn't much beyond that in the way of fights that Scott Coker is going to be able to sell.
Let's be honest, he had a hard enough time selling Jardine as a worthy opponent.
At this point, the options seem to be for Strikeforce to either bring in new talent for Rockhold to face or bid him farewell. Only time will tell how he and his contract are handled.
Were you Maniacs impressed with Rockhold's performance? When you look into your crystal ball, what do you see as the future for Strikeforce's current 185-pound champion?