Michael Bisping definitively states who he will NOT be facing in his first middleweight title defence
The subject of immediate rematches in mixed martial arts is a topical one and many expected Luke Rockhold to get the chance at instant redemption.
Rockhold was knocked out by considerable underdog Michael Bisping in the main event of UFC 199 last Saturday, and the fact that they had previously fought in 2014, a fight which Rockhold won by second-round submission, led many to believe that a rubber match was up next.
Tied at 1-1 and dripping with bad blood, Bisping vs. Rockhold III would rake in huge pay-per-view numbers but 'The Count' is adamant on denying his rival an immediate rematch, pointing towards Rockhold's behaviour at the post-fight press conference as one of the reasons.
"As of right now, Luke Rockhold will not be my first defence," Bisping told ESPN. "That's a fact. I had to go away and beat three more guys before I got a second shot at Luke.
"Certainly, after his behaviour on Saturday, he should have to go away and do the same. He wasn't even close. And it's not like Luke beat me, then I beat Luke, so therefore we have to go again right away. The first fight was two years ago. Neither of us were champion then. He became champion, good for him.
"And I just knocked him out in the first round. Luke's an incredible fighter. He probably has better technical skill than I do. He's going to go away and do it the old-fashioned way like I had to."
At 37 years old, Bisping became Britain's first ever UFC champion when he hoisted the middleweight strap aloft in Inglewood on Saturday night and the Manchester fighter is hopeful of defending the belt on home soil, with names like Chris Weidman, 'Jacare' Souza and Yoel Romero (when he returns from suspension) all in contention.
"Unfortunately, I'm not going to give you a name," Bisping continued. "There is someone I've got my eye on, but ultimately it's down to the UFC.
"I do get a say since I'm the champion, so that's nice. But I've never turned down an opponent and I certainly don't intend to start as a champion.
"We'll see what happens. There's plenty of viable contenders. Defending the title in the U.K. is certainly something I'd love to do, and I've already made it clear to Dana White that I would like to do that."