Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight kingpin Chris Weidman is a marked man in the 185-pound division.
With Vitor Belfort finally getting his crack at "The All American" next month at the UFC 187 pay-per-view (PPV), both Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza made emphatic statements at UFC on FOX 15 last night (Sat., April 18, 2015) live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, that they are next in line.
Rockhold took center stage in the main event of the evening, dismantling Lyoto Machida en route to a second round submission win (highlights here). The fight was easily the most impressive of Rockhold's career, and earned him his fourth straight victory inside the Octagon.
As for "Jacare," the Brazilian made quick work of his short notice opponent, as he once again submitted Chris Camozzi in the very first round (highlights here). Nearly two years after submitting Camozzi in his Octagon debut, Souza repeated the deed nearly a minute quicker.
Obviously, both Rockhold and "Jacare" believe they are the rightful No. 1 contender, but Dana White would not confirm either man's position at the UFC on FOX 15 post-fight press conference (replay here).
His words (Courtesy of MMA Junkie):
"Luke looked unbelievable tonight. Look at what he did, and who he did it to. Beating Machida like that is a big deal, and people are probably are going to say, "‘Jacare' fought Chris Camozzi again." Let me tell you what, Chris Camozzi stepped up on six days' notice to take this fight, and I agree with Chris Camozzi - he's not the same fighter he was two years ago, and for a guy like ‘Jacare,' he had everything to lose and nothing to gain. He's fighting the same guy, he's not ranked - he didn't complain about it once; he went right in there and he handled his business."
"So we're in a position right now where we've got two guys who looked unbelievable who could fight next for the title. It's a good problem to have."
"We'll see how this thing plays out, we'll see how Vitor vs. Weidman goes, and we'll make a decision."
While most fans would suspect Rockhold to leapfrog Souza in the rankings -- heck, he beat him four years ago to become the Strikeforce champ -- it seems White and UFC brass are not ready to pick the next No. 1 contender.
The UFC president may change his tune, however after watching Weidman and Rockhold's back and forth last night on the UFC on FOX set.
For complete results from UFC on FOX 15: "Machida vs. Rockhold," including play-by-play updates, click here.