Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will look to rebound from losing the belt in June when he faces Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in the main event of UFC Fight Night 101 on Nov. 26 in Melbourne, Australia.
Rockhold, who lost the title when he was knocked out by Michael Bisping at UFC 199, took the Strikeforce middleweight title from Souza with a unanimous decision victory in 2011.
Souza and Rockhold both felt they had a strong case to get the first shot against Bisping, but UFC officials decided to award the opportunity to retiring Dan Henderson, who has a history with Bisping.
Henderson knocked out Bisping with a right hand at UFC 100 after the rivals had traded barbs throughout a contentious season as coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter.”
The highlight is one of the most iconic in UFC history. Bisping has wanted a chance at redemption since 2009 and decided to use his leverage as champion to make it happen. Henderson, 46, is 3-6 in his last nine fights and has said he will likely retire after the bout, which is scheduled for Oct. 8.
That could leave the winner of the rematch between Rockhold and Souza in great position to either be next in line to challenge Bisping or to fight for a potentially vacant belt if Henderson should win and walk away.
Rockhold had won five consecutive fights, all by either knockout or submission, before he was stunned by Bisping in his first title defense.
He has spent done some modeling and had indicated in recent weeks he may pursue it full time as a career if he didn’t get the right offer from the UFC.
Apparently, Souza fit that bill.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist has won nine of 10 fights since the loss to Rockhold, with the lone loss coming in a controversial split-decision defeat to contender Yoel Romero in December.
No other fights have been announced for the event, which will be the UFC’s second in Melbourne and first since Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey in the main event of UFC 193 in November 2015.
While that event set a UFC attendance record with 56,214 people filling up Etihad Stadium, UFC Fight Night 101 will take place at Rod Laver Arena.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj