Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold has his first UFC fight lined up.
He will face perennial contender Vitor Belfort in Brazil later this year. The fight will headline the as-yet unnamed, undated event.
The match was revealed by UFC president Dana White today as he addressed a media scrum following the UFC on FUEL 7 pre-event press conference.
He also said that the fight could well determine a number one contender for the middleweight division; Rockhold’s tenure of the now defunct Strikeforce belt makes him viable, as does Belfort’s recent stoppage of Michael Bisping.
Middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s team have actually been requesting that the UFC match Rockhold with their man as the search for the next contender has gone on.
Chris Weidman has beaten three top ten middleweights in a row but has been turned down by Anderson’s team, ostensibly because he is “not well known enough”.
However, the simultaneous suggestion of a pairing with Rockhold has been enough to lead most people towards the conclusion that fame isn’t the driving force in these statements.
Rockhold last competed in July, defending the Strikeforce title against Tim Kennedy by way of a unanimous decision, his second successful title defense and third title fight overall.
Belfort is coming off a stoppage win over Michael Bisping in the headline fight of UFC on FX 7, which took place in Brazil last month.
Prior to that, Belfort had taken a light-heavyweight fight with Jon Jones to do the UFC a favor. He lost in the fourth round, but wrote his name large into the good books in the process.