Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold won’t be returning to the octagon anytime soon.
Rockhold was rumored to be moving up to light heavyweight for a bout with two-time title contender Alexander Gustafsson at August’s UFC 227, but according to a report from MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, a leg injury has postponed his return after he was brutally knocked out by Yoel Romero in his last bout at March’s UFC 221.
Rockhold reportedly re-injured the leg in training last week. He posted a gruesome video showing the stitches he received via Helwani on social media, putting his expected return in October at the earliest:
Luke Rockhold reinjured his leg in training late last week and is now definitely not fighting Alexander Gustafsson this summer. I’m told he’s hoping to return in October, at the earliest. Here’s a video he provided to me of his shin getting stitched up. (Warning: GRAPHIC) pic.twitter.com/CDQseH7nUN
Rockhold took an injured left knee – the same leg which he’s getting stitched in the above videos – into his fight with Michael Bisping at June 2016’s UFC 199, a bout that is still considered one of one of the biggest upsets in mixed martial arts history when ‘The Count’ knocked him out in the first frame to become one of the more unlikely champions the UFC has ever seen.
Helwani said he reinjured the leg last week, although it appears this is a shin injury based on the videos shown.
Since losing to Bisping, Rockhold took over a year off to heal from the aforementioned knee injury and returned to defeat former WSOF two-division champ David Branch last September to earn a title shot at champ Robert Whittaker, who was forced out of their fight with his own long list of ailments.
Romero replaced him and stopped Rockhold, after which the former AKA standout said he was considering a move up to 205 pounds due to the draining weight cut to middleweight. That move will have to wait, at least for now.
Each year, a new class of prospects catch the attention of fight fans. With Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, the biggest stars of the past few years – and perhaps ever – now gone from the sport for the time being, the UFC is in a transitionary period as Endeavor attempts to build new dependable […]
Each year, a new class of prospects catch the attention of fight fans.
With Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, the biggest stars of the past few years – and perhaps ever – now gone from the sport for the time being, the UFC is in a transitionary period as Endeavor attempts to build new dependable pay-per-view draws.
Fighters like Sage Northcutt and Paige VanZant initially made a big impact and the expectations were high, but not all prospects pan out in the cage. Those once-hyped prospects are still around, but they’ve given way to a new crop of potential future stars who are performing in the cage in addition to having their own highly marketable qualities.
So the UFC has potential stars in their midst, but with PPV sales slumping as the promotion seems to be waiting around for McGregor to return, the time is now for them to build for the future as they cannot afford more down years by failing to promote their best chances at box office success.
With the majority of a new year of MMA ahead of us, let’s take a look at six future stars the UFC simply can’t afford to miss promoting throughout this year.
6. Sean O’Malley
O’Malley captured UFC president Dana White’s attention and the exec quickly signed him.
‘Sugar’ certainly has delivered thus far, winning both of his UFC fights with stylish striking and adept grappling.
He even won his last fight after severely damaging his leg in the third round. With his charisma and fighting style, it’s no wonder the company wants to push this kid into star territory.
As O’Malley works his way up the bantamweight division, he’s certainly a fighter to watch out for. At just 23 years old, the Montana native could be a star in a post-McGregor world.
But let’s see him against a step up in competition before the hype train really starts to start. A fight against Rob Font or Thomas Almeida is a perfect test to really see where O’Malley is at, and if he wins that, the UFC should seriously consider pushing his promotion into high gear.
Yoel Romero is quite possibly the most immovable force in the UFC middleweight division. The Cuban wrestling powerhouse proved why he’s the only real contender for current champion Robert Whittaker’s belt by knocking out Luke Rockhold in the main event of February 10’s UFC 222 from Perth, Australia. The finish was so dominant (and strange) […]
Yoel Romero is quite possibly the most immovable force in the UFC middleweight division.
The Cuban wrestling powerhouse proved why he’s the only real contender for current champion Robert Whittaker’s belt by knocking out Luke Rockhold in the main event of February 10’s UFC 222 from Perth, Australia.
The finish was so dominant (and strange) that UFC president Dana White confirmed ‘The Soldier of God’ would rematch Whittaker, whom he lost a close decision to at UFC 213 last July, shortly after he shut Rockhold’s lights out and kissed him on the lips while he was dazed.
The closely-matched bout remains without a date as Whittaker recovers from the staph infection that forced him out of the original UFC 222 main event, but during a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience MMA Show(via MMA Fighting), he appeared to announce he would be rematching Whittaker on June 9, the date of UFC 225 from Chicago, Ill.:
“Let’s just wait until June 9th,” Romero said when questioned how a rematch with “The Reaper” would play out.
The nightmare-inducing knockout artist was up on the cards in the opening rounds of his first match-up with Whittaker, yet appeared to gas in the championship frames and give the New Zealand-born slugger an opening to steal the fight.
After the loss, Romero thought he didn’t quite take it seriously enough.
He knows what he did wrong, and detailed how he went to JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque to train with suspended former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in an effort to more efficiently use his explosive energy:
“After the [Whittaker] fight, my manager said that when he saw me I had a big smile on my face. I was very happy. I didn’t take that loss as serious as I should have. [I was happy because] I learned. And now you see what happened with Luke Rockhold. I learned about timing.
“Listen, people talk about my ‘gas’ but it wasn’t easy to fight Luke Rockhold. I went to Albuquerque with Jon Jones and I learned something. They controlled my attacks, so I learned when to attack. If you go, go, go, you will get tired. So I had to learn to pace myself. I don’t have a problem with five rounds now.”
Despite a few solid fights being announced for UFC 225, there has been no main event officially unveiled.
Is it the perfect place for “The Soldier of God” to get his next shot at the returning ‘Reaper?’
He may have been brutally knocked out by Yoel Romero in his last fight at February’s UFC 222, but former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold isn’t taking the loss quietly. Rockhold has been in the news for a litany of topics lately, ranging from his nearly-confirmed move up to light heavyweight, the subsequent beef with Alexander […]
He may have been brutally knocked out by Yoel Romero in his last fight at February’s UFC 222, but former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold isn’t taking the loss quietly.
Rockhold has been in the news for a litany of topics lately, ranging from his nearly-confirmed move up to light heavyweight, the subsequent beef with Alexander Gustafsson that resulted, a potential trilogy fight with rival Michael Bisping, and even his signing on as a Ralph Lauren model.
However, Rockhold hasn’t completely forgotten about his loss to Romero, after which ‘The Soldier of God’ somehow stormed into his face and kissed him, telling him he ‘loves him’ while Rockhold didn’t exactly know where he was after being knocked out. During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Rockhold called out the Western Australia Combat Sports Commission (WACSC) for allowing such a scene to happen during such a big fight:
“For him to come across the cage like that, it’s just ridiculous for them to let him do that,” Rockhold said. “Not a big fan of how he carries himself. He’s a bit fake. I’m not really saying how I feel. I am who I am. Like it or hate it.”
Rockhold gave Romero his due after the fight, but he also said his draining cuts down to middleweight were coming to an end because they sapped him of much of his strength in Australia, something he noticed in the Cuban behemoth’s own strength:
“Yoel felt strong. He felt big. I didn’t feel my best. … The weight cuts are getting to me these days. The man felt like cement,” Rockhold said. “I thought i could really take his movement and force him to wrestle more, but that really wasn’t the case.… I had to work around my kicks. I just didn’t put it together like I should have.”
So even though he didn’t appear to hold any lasting grudge with Romero right after the fight, it’s become clear that isn’t the case after he’s had some time to let all the ramifications sink in. With Romero winning all but one of his UFC bouts while some kind of controversy follows him almost constantly, the former Strikeforce champ wondered why Romero had gotten through a USADA loophole to supposedly skirt responsibility:
“Guess what? He’s the man who opened his mouth and talked shit while I had the title and he went and popped for steroids,” Rockhold said. “So, yeah he got by on that somehow, but f*ck off. You know what you’re putting in your body. I’m tired of people like this just trying to find loopholes and ways around these things. I don’t know why you get a pass in this sport, but a lot of guys get passes,” Rockhold said. “Not a fan of it. I’ve always fought clean, I’ve never cheated my way through this sport, I’ve always done everything the right way. Unfortunately, not everybody follows that path.”
Earlier this week, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold opened up about his reasons for moving up to light heavyweight for his next bout, describing the weight cut to 185 pounds as simply too draining for him as he aged. Rockhold said the cut played a part in him not performing his best during his […]
Earlier this week, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold opened up about his reasons for moving up to light heavyweight for his next bout, describing the weight cut to 185 pounds as simply too draining for him as he aged.
Rockhold said the cut played a part in him not performing his best during his recent knockout loss to Yoel Romero at February’s UFC 221, a fight before which he said he spent several hours in a depleted state.
With weight cutting and its effects a hot topic in MMA, Rockhold made the call that many top fighters have recently and will move to a division much more suited to his natural weight. And when he does, he already has a high-profile dance partner waiting for him.
After his loss to Romero, he was surprisingly called out by former two-time light heavyweight title contender Alexander Gustafsson, who lost to Rockhold’s longtime training partner Daniel Cormier at 2015’s UFC 192. The former Strikeforce and UFC 185-pound champ understandably didn’t take too kindly to ‘The Mauler’s’ impromptu callout, saying he was ‘coming for that ass’ earlier this week.
Gustafsson apparently got word of it as well, and he issued a response on Twitter calling Rockhold ‘chinny’ earlier today:
@LukeRockhold . Heard u coming for me.. Can’t ask for more .chinny as middle weight. KO’d as a LHW. Fool yourself to believe its the weight cut.
“The Mauler” had previously hinted he may move up weight classes himself to avoid fighting friends and teammates Jimi Manuwa and Ilir Latifi, yet it seems like he’s willing to wait at 205 for Rockhold to make his debut.
There’s little doubt Rockhold would have a significant test on his hands in the top-ranked Gustafsson, who knocked out Glover Teixeira in a scintillating “Fight of the Night”-winning affair last May before undergoing shoulder surgery.
Rockhold has also been linked to a trilogy bout with rival Michael Bisping, who is rumored to be retiring and infamously ripped the title from Rockhold’s hands at UFC 199. But if he’s serious about a move up to light heavyweight, the ‘Mauler’ fight would be an immediate proving ground to find out if it was the weight cut affecting his recent effort.
Is this the best fight to make for Rockhold’s light heavyweight debut?
After battering Rob Wilkinson in his UFC debut at February 10’s UFC 221 from Australia, surging middleweight prospect Israel Adesanya celebrating like no other UFC fighter had before by pretending to pee in the corner of the Octagon. The undefeated Nigerian burst onto the scene making a splash in more ways than one, but apparently […]
After battering Rob Wilkinson in his UFC debut at February 10’s UFC 221 from Australia, surging middleweight prospect Israel Adesanya celebrating like no other UFC fighter had before by pretending to pee in the corner of the Octagon.
The undefeated Nigerian burst onto the scene making a splash in more ways than one, but apparently didn’t please his employers in the process. Recently speaking to FloCombat (via MMA Mania), ‘The Last Stylebender’ revealed the UFC told his manager they weren’t happy with him shaking his fake genitalia on FOX Sports 1.
But to him, he was just marking his territory:
“‘They told my manager that, ‘We handle a lot of sponsors, millions of dollars in sponsors. So for him to pretend to be with his dick out and shaking it after he pees as well or whatever, it’s not really a good look.’ For me, how I see it is, fuck, what are the sponsors worried about: Me pretending to whip an imaginary dick out and pee everywhere to mark my territory or just watching me just beat the fuck out of a dude? I don’t know what kind of game these sponsors are playing or whatever, but for me, I just have to make a statement. Any top dog would do it. My stench is still there. Whenever I get back into the cage, I’m sure I’ll smell it.”
Yet they weren’t all too mad with their potential future star, as he was booked for a quick turnaround against Marvin Vettori at UFC on FOX 28 on April 14.
Finishing all 12 of his MMA bouts via T/KO, Adesanya will look to extend his impressive streak of knockout wins in Glendale, Ariz. next month.
We’ll just have to see if he tones down his post-fight celebration if he does.