UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya recently rid himself of former titleholder Robert Whittaker and could soon be free of the Jared Cannonier threat. But even if “The Last Stylebender” gets past “The Killa Gorilla” at UFC 276 in July, there’s a new crop of 185-pound contenders ready to step up.
Former middleweight kingpin Luke Rockhold remains unimpressed.
“I could give two fucks,” Rockhold told Helen Yee. “Who’s Alex Pereira and Sean (Strickland) is not really relevant, especially after his last fight. If you wanna fight for the title, prove it, earn it, go put it on the line. When you fight a guy like Jack Hermansson and you don’t fight like a fucking man and go for a win and stake your claim and make your case ... you never know what the fuck is in that kid’s head.”
Strickland turned in a lame duck performance against Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 45 last February. Defeating kickboxing standout Alex Pereira at UFC 276 this summer in “Sin City” would be a great way to erase the memory of his split decision victory over “The Joker.”
As for Rockhold, who hasn’t competed in nearly three years, he’s looking to jump back into the deep end when he collides with former title challenger Paulo Costa at UFC 277 in Dallas, assuming “The Eraser” actually shows up for the fight.
“I think it’s pretty self explanatory,” Rockhold continued. “I think I have my track record and if I beat Paulo Costa, the No. 4-ranked middleweight in the world — who Marvin Vettori couldn’t finish — if I finish him, yeah, I think it makes a statement about where I belong and where I should go.”
Expect the month of July to be a major turning point for the 185-pound division.