“Strike while the iron is hot.”

It is a saying that is often thrown around in this world we live in. In mixed martial arts, the phrase is always relevant, as fighters will do whatever they can to jump at the opportunity for something better. When it was announced that Dan Henderson was injured just a week prior to UFC 151, it was Chael Sonnen who jumped at the opportunity to fight for the title. He didn’t get the fight then, but his willingness to step forward earned him a bout with the champ further on down the road.

When the injury bug bit Costa Philippou a couple of weeks ago, it was undercard fighter Chris Camozzi who was given the opportunity to jump to the co-main event and take on Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. This opportunity will be great for the Colorado-based fighter, who has a chance to make it five wins in a row and take down a top-10 fighter in the process. But Camozzi doesn’t have the most to gain this Saturday. No, that honor goes to former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.

Three times within the modern history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship has its parent company, Zuffa, bought top competing promotions and brought the rosters of the competitor into that of its own promotion. The move is not unprecedented, however. It happened first with Pride Fighting Championships, then with World Extreme Cagefighting. And now it has happened with Strikeforce.

When Pride was purchased, the champions who stuck around were given title unification matches with their peers on the UFC roster, which ultimately resulted in two-division Pride champion Dan Henderson failing to defeat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for the light heavyweight title and also fall short against Anderson Silva at middleweight.

The WEC absorbed different divisions at different times, but the lone fighter on its roster that was guaranteed a title-unification fight was lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. He was a victim of bad timing, however, after the draw between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard at UFC 125 prompted an immediate rematch. Not wanting to wait out that rematch and get rusty, Pettis took a fight with Clay Guida and lost by decision. With the loss, his title shot was taken away.

Now, with the fighters coming over from Strikeforce, some champions are getting their title shots, whereas others are not. Prior to all of the drama that unfolded between former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz and the UFC, it was planned for Diaz to jump from the hexagonal cage of his old promotion and fight Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title at UFC 137. Although the words “title unification” were never officially used, the UFC went as far as to have each fighter holding their respective title on the fight poster that read “Champion vs. Champion” at the top. Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez hopped from Strikeforce to the UFC with an immediate title shot at Ben Henderson in another fight that was never officially labeled as a title unification bout. Ronda Rousey was effectively granted the title of UFC women’s bantamweight champion when that entire division debuted in the Octagon in 2013.

Left off that list, however, are middleweight Luke Rockhold and welterweight Tarec Saffiedine. While “The Sponge” won the 170-pound title on the last card the promotion held and it could be argued that that isn’t enough to warrant an immediate shot, what about Rockhold?

In his nine Strikeforce fights, Rockhold went a perfect 9-0 with seven first-round stoppages. He has successfully defended the middleweight championship two times and was never given a third chance due to the UFC’s acquisition of the promotion. Not to mention, the man he defeated for the title is Jacare, the same man that Camozzi will now fight this weekend just a few slots further down the card. But rather than giving Rockhold an immediate chance with Anderson Silva, the UFC will put him across the cage from the legendary Vitor Belfort, and in “The Phenom’s” home country of Brazil.

If the AKA fighter can defeat the Brazilian on Belfort’s home turf, it would be hard for the UFC to not offer him the next chance at the UFC title. Considering the UFC is the biggest and strongest MMA promotion in the world, a title shot for one of the promotion’s championships is what gives Rockhold the edge over Camozzi in terms of who has the most to gain at UFC on FX 8.

Sure, jumping at an opportunity with the iron still hot, Camozzi could vault into the top 10 with a victory over Jacare, but on this particular night, it is Rockhold who can get further. He has his eyes on a new gold belt, and he can get to it with a victory over Belfort.

Photo: Luke Rockhold (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)