Luke Rockhold was all set to challenge current UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker for the undisputed title at this weekend’s (Sat., Feb. 10, 2018) UFC 221 pay-per-view (PPV) event in Perth, Australia before “The Reaper” was forced out due to a severe staph infection.
So, the next best thing UFC could think of was pitting Luke against Yoel Romero for the interim title, with the winner getting first crack against Whittaker when he’s good and ready. For Rockhold, it doesn’t matter who he faces first, but he did proclaim that if he can defeat “Solider of God” more handily that Robert did last year at UFC 213, then he should be considered the “real” division king.
“This was bound to happen one way or the other. Whittaker would have been first, Yoel would’ve been second. Yoel’s first, so Whittaker will be second. I’m up for the task. I’m not lacking in any way,” he proclaimed during a recent UFC 221 pre-fight press conference.
“I’m prepared to fight the best guys in the world. It’s a shame it’s not gonna be for the undisputed title but Whittaker beat Yoel to be the interim champion. I’m gonna beat Yoel to be the interim champion. It’s a matter of who did it better is gonna be the real champion at the end of this thing. So that’s the way I see it,” added the former 185-pound champion of the world.
Furthermore, while Luke has all the respect for Robert as champion, he feels his past accomplishments can’t be denied, stating that his resume is far superior than that of the Aussie’s.
“I think it speaks for itself. I’ve beaten Jacare. I’ve beaten every other guy in this division. I’ve got a way more impressive resume. He beat Yoel to be the interim champion. I take nothing away from Whittaker, I do have all the respect for him. He’s a gangster in this game, but if I beat Yoel and I put him away, it’s who did it better?” he added via MMA Fighting.
“He had a close fight. That was 2-2 going into the fifth [round]. He showed his championship skill and he pulled through that fifth round. He won. But if I can do it better, who did it better? Who’s the best? That’s what I plan on doing.”
Unfortunately for Luke, it doesn’t work that way, and Whittaker will still be the true division king regardless of how easy and swiftly Rockhold may get a win over Romero. But if “Soldier of God” happens to take it to Luke, well then all of this is for naught.
To see who else is fighting at the UFC 221: “Rockhold vs Romero” fight card click here.