photo by Will Fox
Luke Rockhold is currently sitting atop the Strikeforce middleweight division as champion, but as of right now he does not have a clear No. 1 contender ready to challenge him.
The most likely candidate to fill that slot is the man he defeated to win the belt, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who looks to solidify that spot with a win this weekend. Jacare faces Team Greg Jackson fighter and former three-time Division II All-American wrestler Derek Brunson on Saturday night in San Diego.
The thing is, Brunson knows that Jacare is the most likely candidate to get the title shot with a win, so he figures playing spoiler is the best way to end up in the title talk himself.
“All I hear them talking about is giving Jacare the title fight or whatever if he wins, so I'm definitely going to try to get a title shot. A win over Jacare, the former champion, should definitely get a title shot,” Brunson told MMAWeekly Radio.
A few months back, Brunson was engaged in a bitter war of words with Rockhold on Twitter, exchanging verbal jabs with each other over a potential fight down the road.
Looking back on it, Brunson says it was nothing personal, but Rockhold is holding the Strikeforce middleweight title, something he covets very much. So Rockhold immediately is landing in Brunson's crosshairs.
“I really don't have no problem with him personally or on a personal level. I just want to beat him up because he's the champion of my weight class,” said Brunson.
Still, he's not convinced even with a win that Rockhold would jump at the chance to face him with the title on the line.
“I don't think Rockhold wants that fight because I'm a good wrestler and I can put him on his back any time I want. He probably should have took it back then because then all he would have had to worry about was my wrestling, but now there's a lot more to worry about than just my wrestling,” Brunson stated.
Before even thinking about Rockhold, however, Brunson has to get through former champion Jacare Souza. He may be coming into the fight with the odds against him, but Brunson knows he has the skills to win and then he's ready to challenge Rockhold for the belt.
“I'm going to do everything I can to make it happen. I plan on definitely getting that title shot right after this fight,” said Brunson.
“I hear people have me as a huge underdog, but I'm not laying down for anybody and I don't see myself losing.”
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