[Opinion] Was It A Fluke? vs Does He Still Have A Chin? Now Is The Time For Bisping vs Rockhold III

Luke Rockhold's defeat at UFC 221 has set the table for an epic third fight with his arch nemesis Michael Bisping.

Luke Rockhold will wake up on Monday morning wondering what went wrong and hoping that his UFC 221 loss to Yoel Romero was just a nightmare.

Unfortunately for Rockhold, his third round knockout defeat was about as real as they come and Romero will now be the man likely to go on and challenge UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker later this year.

But where does this leave Rockhold now? Once upon a time, Rockhold was said to be the man that was going to dominate the 185-pounds division for the foreseeable future, but on June 4, 2016, his world got turned upside down at UFC 199 when Michael Bisping overcame the odds and defeated him via first-round knockout to rip the title from his grasp.

Ever since that night at The Forum in Inglewood, California, Rockhold simply hasn’t been the same man.

His confident aurora was superseded by awkward hollow words and he spent a long time on the sidelines licking his wounds and with a bitter attitude that neither won him fans inside or outside of the organization.

Rockhold returned to the Octagon late last year to defeat David Branch, but even then his performance wasn’t totally convincing and the same flaws that were his undoing against Bisping were briefly exposed again by the former WSOF Champion Branch.

Rockhold’s post-fight speech that night said it all. The awkward plea to Georges St-Pierre to pull out of his scheduled fight with Bisping at UFC 217 felt very forced and it revealed that he was still somewhat haunted by his loss to the Brit 15 months prior.

Fast forward to last evening and once again Rockhold’s tendency to drop his right hand was exposed for the third fight running. Romero, unlike Branch, finished him in devastating fashion and the image of Rockhold slumped against the cage after eating a big left hand was reminiscent of the fate Bisping dealt him back in June 2016.

If Rockhold is going to continue to make waves in the UFC he has to do two things. Firstly, he needs to keep his right hand glued to his head. Secondly, he needs to put to bed the ghost that appears to have been haunting him for nearly two years now and he needs to settle the score with Bisping.

Both men need this third fight to know the truth. Was Bisping’s win a fluke? Or is Rockhold’s chin now suspect? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both, but there’s one way to find out for sure.

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