Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold is relieved that Georges St-Pierre relinquished the title and feels the division is starting to return to normal. He’ll face former interim titleholder Robert Whittaker for the championship at UFC 221 on Feb. 11 in Perth, Australia.
When the match-up was announced, No. 6 ranked Kelvin Gastelum stated that Rockhold would be an easier fight for Whittaker than himself. Gastelum is coming off a first-round knockout win over former champion Michael Bisping, but Rockhold thinks Gastelum hasn’t done anything in the sport to warrant fighting for a title.
“I know I’ve proven myself. I’ve accomplished things in this sport. Whereas, little midgets like Kelvin Gastelum haven’t. I’ve destroyed Chris Weidman, which he got destroyed by Weidman, so it’s like, ehh (shrugs). This kid hasn’t beaten really anybody and done anything in this sport, and for him to run his mouth, it’s pretty funny. It’s laughable. He’ll find out real if he continues his efforts at 185. I’d slap that kid down real quick. Real quick,” Rockhold told Submission Radio.
Rockhold captured the title by finishing Weidman at UFC 194 in December 2015. He was defeated by Bisping in his first title defense. He sought a rematch but it never came to fruition. Bisping lost to St-Pierre and then was knocked out by Gastelum. With Bisping’s recent losing skid, Rockhold has put the loss to the Brit behind him.
“Originally, yeah, of course. Bisping was running around, dancing and hiding from everybody he possibly could. I think he knows he got lucky and he just avoided everybody and obviously fought nobody, not one contender in his whole stint,” said Rockhold.
“I hate even mentioning his name. He’s not even on my radar, he doesn’t even make sense for anybody in the division,” he said. “I think he’s ran and I think he’s gonna keep running. Who’s he gonna fight now even in the top ten? There’s no one for him, no one I think he’ll even fight.”
Before St-Pierre vacated the title, Rockhold called for a fight with Whittaker and considered Whittaker the real 185-pound champion.
“Whittaker’s been the champ for a long time, so he’s the goal, of course. The best is always the goal, being on top is the goal and Whittaker’s proved himself for a long time now. He’s been on top, he’s beaten all the top guys, he’s the man.”