In the pair’s first meeting, Rockhold picked up a submission win over his rival in a highly anticipated grudge match. Bisping vowed revenge, however his opportunity wouldn’t come for several years. When it did, it was in the form of a short notice fill-in fight in a bid for Rockhold’s middleweight title.
Despite that, Bisping rose to the occasion, defying the odds as he defeated Rockhold via KOin the first round to win the middleweight championship.
Rockhold meanwhile, over the course of the last year, has remained absent from the Octagon, pulling out of a November title eliminator fight with Jacare Souza after sustaining an injury in training camp.
Now, in an interview with ESPN however, he called for Bisping to be stripped of the title:
“BISPING HAS FOUGHT NOBODY IN THE TOP 10 FOR THE LAST YEAR-AND-A-HALF AND STILL ISN’T GOING TO FIGHT ANYBODY IN THE TOP 10. WHERE DOES THAT PUT HIM? I THINK THEY SHOULD PULL THE TITLE FROM GUYS LIKE THAT WHO DON’T FIGHT ANYBODY AT THE TOP. THEY PULLED THE TITLE FROM [GERMAINE DE RANDAMIE] BECAUSE SHE WOULDN’T FIGHT THE NO. 1 CONTENDER. WHY IS THIS ANY F–KING DIFFERENT?”
“WE’LL SEE IF GEORGES EVEN MAKES IT TO THE FIGHT,” HE CONTINUED. “THE GUY HAS BEEN OUT FOR SO LONG, WHO KNOWS WHERE HIS HEAD OR HIS BODY IS AT, OR IF HE ACTUALLY MAKES IT TO THAT DATE. I’M GOING TO GO OUT AND DO WHAT I HAVE TO DO AND WE’LL SEE WHERE EVERYTHING IS AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME.”
While Rockhold has been okay with sitting on the sidelines, he recently expressed his desire to fight again.
When he does return, who should he fight to determine his place amongst the middleweight division’s elites.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 8/4/2017.