While nothing is close to being finalized, it’s very possible that former UFC middleweight champions Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping will meet in a highly-anticipated grudge match at UFC 226 this July.
It’s a matchup that makes a ton of sense at 185 pounds, especially considering Rockhold just lost to Yoel Romero via knockout at UFC 221 and Bisping is actively looking for an opponent for his farewell fight. These two have met twice before, with Rockhold defeating “The Count” in 2014 via submission and Bisping returning the favor with a knockout at UFC 199 to claim Rockhold’s 185-pound title, so it’s an easy sell to fight fans.
Despite splitting their previous meetings, Rockhold seems fairly confident in a trilogy fight with Bisping. So much so that the former UFC champion is willing to walk away from mixed martial arts (MMA) if he loses.
“I’ll put it on this: If Bisping beats me in this fight, I’ll be the motherf—ker who retires. If Bisping beats me in this fight, this will be my retirement fight,” Rockhold told FloCombat earlier this week.
Pretty confident for a guy who has been finished via knockout in two of his last three Octagon appearances, but Rockhold remains one of the strongest players in the middleweight division. The 33-year-old has been flirting with a potential move to 205 pounds - calling out the like of Alexander Gustafsson - but he’s willing to put all of that on hold to meet Bisping for a third time.
“This is your retirement fight, [so] let’s go out on the biggest stage possible. That’s Las Vegas,” Rockhold said. “That’s International Fight Week. Back it up. Put your money where your mouth is. Put your balls on the table, ‘cause I’m ready to go.”
“There’s a lot of things I want to do but the motherf—ker ran his mouth. He opened the door,” he added. “I’m not one to turn down opportunities. I back up everything I say and I put it on the line. I’m going to back up what I say and let’s see if Bisping can back up what he says. I’m ready to go. The UFC is ready to go. The fans are ready to go.”
A potential Rockhold vs. Bisping trilogy fight wouldn’t carry any title implications at 185 pounds, but it would give “The Count” what he’s looking for in a retirement fight. After all, Bisping and Rockhold have become legitimate enemies over the past few years, especially after the way Bisping reacted following his knockout win over Rockhold in 2016.
”It all comes down to one boy,” said Rockhold. “We’ll see if he’s a man or a boy. Men back up their words. Little boys run away.”
UFC 226 is currently slated to take place on July 7 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and feature a main event clash between UFC champions Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.