Luke Rockhold has vowed to gain vengeance on Michael Bisping by finishing the reigning UFC middleweight champion with strikes if they ever meet for a third time.
Bisping stepped in to face Rockhold for the title on short-notice last June when Chris Weidman was forced to withdraw from the main event of UFC 199 through injury and the veteran Brit shocked the world by scoring a first-round stoppage win. Bisping wobbled Rockhold with a right-hand, left-hook combo as the American exited the fray after an attack. Another left subsequently dropped Rockhold and Bisping pounced, pummeling his foe until referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy stepped in to stop the fight.
A couple of weeks back, Rockhold made his return to the octagon after a fifteen-month layoff to submit former two-weight WSOF champion David Branch with strikes, but the American Kickboxing Academy representative was forced to survive some scary moments in the opening round when Branch backed him into the cage with a hefty barrage of punches.
These moments led Bisping to conclude that Rockhold simply struggles with good boxers.
“I thought he looked very sloppy, if I’m honest,” Bisping said on last week’s edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “He has a problem with people that can box, people that can get inside. He landed some good shots the other guy – David Branch. And if he had a bit more pop he could have taken Luke out of there. So, yeah, congratulations. Job well done. He got the finish in the second round, but he needs to be careful. A lot could have been improved upon, let’s just say that.”
When Helwani played the clip of Bisping’s critique to Rockhold on this Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, the former champion seemed dumbfounded.
“He can think what he wants to think,” responded Rockhold, eventually. “When a guy[Branch] rushes forward and runs forward like that, it’s not as calculated as it should be. I did what I had to do – I found my timing and I landed my shots. If he wants to think that I’m vulnerable in that realm or any of those realms, sign the contract – I’ll be ready to go.
“As a matter of fact, if Bisping were to sign to fight with me, I would promise you and the world – I would bet on it – that I would not shoot for one takedown. This would be purely a stand-up fight. I would give him every opportunity to get back in there and implement his boxing, get on the inside. I fucking guarantee you, I will finish you on the feet.”
Battling Bisping in the area where he is strongest might seem a little ill-advised, especially considering how the pair’s last fight ended. However, Rockhold had plenty of success on the feet when the pair met for the first time back in November of 2014. He may have won via submission with a guillotine, but it was ahead-kick that hastened Bisping’s demise.
Bisping, a master of mind games, will no doubt feel that these promises and guarantees are yet further examples that the Rockhold is too emotionally invested in their feud.
Of course, unless Georges St-Pierre pulls out of his date with Bisping in November, Rockhold is unlikely to get the chance to avenge his defeat to Bisping for quite a while – if ever. Remember, Bisping also told Helwani on last week’s show that the ‘GSP’ fight could be his last.
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) September 25, 2017