Although some casual or “just UFC” fans may not be quite up to speed on just who Luke Rockhold is, after this Saturday’s UFC on FX 8 card they’ll have a much better idea. If the former Strikeforce champ goes in there and bombs out Vitor Belfort, who is undeniably one of the sport’s biggest names, the Rockhold bandwagon will be full of passengers.

Of course, that’s the whole point of this match-up. The UFC recognizes that Rockhold is an extremely talented fighter with plenty of star potential, while Belfort remains a top fighter who is hoping for one more title run. A win for either man will be big for their career as well as the promotion.

While it remains to be seen what the UFC intends to do with Rockhold  if indeed he scores a win in his Octagon debut, the 28 year-old middleweight apparently believes it could propel him straight to a title shot. In a recent appearance on the MMA’s Great Debate Podcast, Rockhold stated:

“I’m looking to put myself back on top. I want to be that champion again.  I’m used to being the top dog and I’m no longer the top dog right now, so I’m looking forward to solidifying my spot.”

“I want to get that title shot as soon as possible.  That’s why Vitor was in my sights to take at the time. As long as I go out there and put on a good performance, I don’t know why they would deny me.”

The deciding factor could very well be whether Rockhold puts on a “good performance”, as in a one-sided victory, which gets fans buzzing. If the 10-1 fighter narrowly gets by Belfort with a decision win, there might not be an abundance of calls to give Rockhold a crack at the belt.

Then again, if Silva takes out Chris Weidman on July 6th, the promotion is running out of top contenders to challenge the champ.

Photo Credit: Scott Olmos-USA Today