Following the announcement of his rise to light heavyweight, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold wanted a fight against Jon Jones. Instead, the current 205-pound title holder has been hired to face Anthony Smith in his first defense since recovering from the belt at UFC 232 in December.
Smith qualified as a viable contender last year with victories over veterans Rashad Evans and Shogun Street, and a victory of Performance of the Night over Volkan Oezdemir three months ago. However, despite these achievements, Rockhold is not impressed with the number three ranking.
"Anthony Smith has just played the title," said Rockhold in a recent MMA Hour episode (via MMA Fighting). "He could not sniff a top 10 at middleweight … [Smith’s fight against Jones] will end up in less than a round. That's why I do not understand why they did this fight. "
"[Corey Anderson] could last a few rounds maybe [against Jones]. I think Jan is probably one of the hardest guys there. Just a tough tough. He is not very skillful in many ways, but durable. "
As for his own schedule, Rockhold still wants to fight in the first half of the year as long as it is against the highest ranked opponent.
"I was filming for the end of March, but we're looking like the beginning of April now, it just depends on which opponents fall where they can.I know Jon really wanted another very fast fight for some reason. by Anthony Smith [at UFC 235], So let's see.
"I know some of the other top guys are coming together. I think Thiago Santos and Jan Blachowicz [are matched up]. Corey Anderson looked decent the other night [at UFC 232] also. I'm looking for a top guy.
Rockhold will be an interested spectator when Jones and Smith fight at UFC 235 on March 2na in Las Vegas.