Whenever a fighter runs through an opponent the way Luke Rockhold blitzed through Tim Boetsch last night (April 26, 2014) At UFC 172 in Baltimore, Maryland (highlights), the talk that follows is usually pointed onward and upward.
But after two straight finishes, this one a nasty Kimura after securing an inverted-triangle position "without messing up his hair," as UFC President Dana White would say later at the post-fight presser (watch it), Rockhold isn't calling for the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 173.
The Santa Cruz native -- who was as high as a 10-1 favorite last night and made "The Barbarian" look like he didn't belong in the Octagon with him -- is looking backward, instead.
Now ranked No. 5 at middleweight, Rockhold has a couple of itches to scratch before looking ahead. One is named Michael Bisping, the other is Vitor Belfort. The reason for wanting the former is due to some trash talk. The reason for the latter is due to "The Phenom" nearly taking his head off in Brazil last summer, a loss that Rockhold admitted at the post-fight presser, "doesn't sit well" with him.
"It's a loss and I want to redeem myself and I want to earn my title shot, and beating Vitor, I think is the best way to do it, most honorable way," said the AKA fighter, who also broke his toe against Boetsch.
"I respect that," White said. "Not many people are calling out Vitor, and he lost to Vitor. He looked good against Boetsch tonight."
While "wanting to make a different ending to the story," and avenging a loss is understandable, it is a bit puzzling why a fighter who could make his case to be next in line for a title shot does not want to pursue that route. With Weidman and Machida set to square off next month at UFC 173, Anderson Silva still on the shelf recovering from his leg injury, and Belfort dealing with other problems, the only man ahead and the fight that makes the most sense is the No.4 middleweight Jacare Souza.
Rockhold stated that Souza is "ahead" of him, but he "beat" him already, indicating he is not interested in a rematch, but the problem with setting up a fight with Belfort, according to White, is that the Brazilian has to "clear up his Las Vegas issues," meaning his lingering, licensing problem with the commission that has been ongoing since he was originally scheduled to face Weidman and complicated further due to the commission banning the use of TRT, which ultimately led to dropping out of the title fight vs. Weidman.
Rockhold stated "nobody knows" when Vitor is coming back and "there isn't much active ahead of me" as his reasoning behind Bisping being another option for his next fight, which makes even less sense than fighting Belfort.
"Bisping is a guy who opened his mouth and he is still running it," Rockhold told reporters. "I don't think Tim Kennedy closed it yet, so I'd love to it for good."
One who doesn't agree with the logic to face either Belfort or Bisping is the middleweight's teammate, Daniel Cormier. Serving as a co-host on last night's FOX Sports 1 post-fight show, "DC" had this to say about his friend and fellow AKA team member.
"He's got to let the Belfort and Bisping things go and move forward. He's got to go fight for the title," Cormier stated.
While Weidman and Machida battle for the tile at the end of May (more on that here), and Belfort off the radar at the moment, Rockhold and Souza is the fight that is out there begging to be made to decide who will be next in line for a title shot.
It would be a rematch of the Strikeforce middleweight title fight from September 2011, the No. 4 vs. the No. 5, but Rockhold doesn't want it. The 12-2 fighter would strangely rather face Bisping, who is coming off a horrendous loss to Tim Kennedy at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale, than Souza, who has finished five of six opponents since losing the Strikeforce title to Rockhold.
Which fight do you, as a fan, want to see?
For more UFC 172 results and fallout from last night's pay-per-view (PPV) check out our live story stream here.