Luke Rockhold believes that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is simply racking up wins in a division where he's mostly run out of suitable challengers. Rockhold intends to change that.
The white-hot talk over the past few weeks was a verbal feud between Jones and newly minted interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Rockhold points to that as a key example of Jones floundering around for a fight that will draw the spotlight.
"I think Jon is just looking for anything that can get traction. Jon is in a dead pool up there. There’s not a lot of fish in the pond, so I think he’s just struggling. He’s trying to pick off these easy fights," Rockhold said during a recent interview with Submission Radio. "He’s trying to make people relevant, like Anthony Smith. I don’t know. He’s trying to pick off style match-ups."
Jones is next scheduled to face Thiago Santos in the UFC 239 main event on July 6 in Las Vegas. Santos is only three fights into his tenure at 205 pounds, but he has reeled off victories over Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa, and Jan Blachowicz, whom Rockhold is slated to face at UFC 239.
Santos is a worthy challenger, but oddsmakers have him as a massive underdog to Jones. MyBookie, for instance, has Jones listed at -650 to Santos at +450. That's a huge disparity in modern-day mixed martial arts.
Luke Rockhold sees a quick path to Jon Jones at light heavyweight
Rockhold, however, feels that a win in his light heavyweight debut over a Top 10 fighter like Blachowicz, should quickly put him on the path to Jones, a fighter that he knows well from having pretended to be him.
“I’d jump on (a fight with Jones) in a heartbeat. I’ve been training as Jon Jones for (teammate Daniel Cormier) for so many years and I know his style, and like what we have here. So I’m gonna go focus on what I’m doing here this summer and if everything works out, me and Jon will be dancing later this year or 2020.
“Thiago Santos just got a world title fight after beating Jan Blachowicz, so I figure if I go out there and put a performance on him, what’s to deny me? I mean, what else is there? These guys are scouring around, not taking fights. So I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna perform and do my job, and then I’m gonna let the chips fall where they may.”
Luke Rockhold believes skill-for-skill, nobody can match him
Rockhold could find a quicker path to the title than most because he has already held the UFC belt as a middleweight, where it's become harder and harder for him to make weight in a healthy manner. With the size he's added in moving up to 205 pounds, Rockhold believes his skills translate well opposite the man oft-argued as being the greatest fighter of all time.
"I can strike with him, I’m no slouch in the wrestling game, and top of it, with the size I have now, it’s different. And I’m gonna give a lot more power, I’m gonna bring it on the feet, and I don’t believe there’s a man in this game that can f--- with me on the ground," said Rockhold.
"When you start implementing punches and grappling, there’s no one. I don’t believe there’s anybody who can dance with me in that realm."