Luke Rockhold believes the UFC’s light heavyweight division is “for the taking” at the moment.
The ex-UFC middleweight champ has struggled at 185 pounds as of late. He has lost two of his last three matches by way of knockout. The Californian captured the middleweight championship in December of 2015 due to a brutal streak of wins.
Rockhold finished Chris Weidman via fourth-round TKO to hand “The All American” the first loss of his career. In his first title defense several months later, Rockhold was upset by Michael Bisping via first-round knockout.
After a year-long layoff, Rockhold returned to action in September of last year and finished David Branch in the second round. Soon after, Rockhold was therefore granted an interim middleweight championship opportunity.
He fought Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 221 in February. Unfortunately for Rockhold, he couldn’t withstand the Cuban’s hellacious knockout power. He was finished in the third round by “The Soldier Of God.”
After failing to recapture the 185-pound title, Rockhold began contemplating a jump up to 205 pounds. He was in discussions for a possible fight with Alexander Gustafsson before a nasty injury halted those talks.
Return To Middleweight
Now, Rockhold is set to make his Octagon return in November, still at middleweight. He’ll rematch Weidman at UFC 230 in New York in a pivotal middleweight affair. The winner will absolutely be back in the 185-pound title discussion because of the stakes involved.
There’s just no guarantee Rockhold even makes it back to the middleweight fray.
Win or lose to Weidman, Rockhold may decide to finally up to 205 pounds, meanwhile. If he does, he likes his chances based on the current state of the class. In a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Rockhold said he believes the UFC light heavyweight division is “for the taking.”
“I like the light heavyweight division – I think it’s for the taking. ‘DC,’ the complication with him – he’s tossing and turning. I just want the thing to really solidify itself and iron it out; I want a matchup – I want a sexy matchup, and I want to get up there and I want to do some damage, and I want it to mean something.”
Above all, Rockhold doesn’t want to fight just anyone when he does move up:
“I don’t want to have to fight the best guy in the division in Alexander Gustafsson and have to backtrack if ‘DC’ doesn’t fight and I have to fight someone else lower – what’s the (expletive) point?
Better Fighter At Light Heavyweight
Rockhold knows he’d be a much better fighter at 205 pounds due to the draining cut down to 185.
There’s just one problem.
One of his best friends and training partners, Daniel Cormier, is the division’s champion. Rockhold has so much respect for “DC,” he doesn’t want to step on the double champ’s toes:
“I know I’m a lot better fighter at 205 and I could do a lot of damage,” Rockhold said. “There’s a certain amount of respect, and ‘DC’ is my brother. We came from the (expletive) very beginning together.
“I’m not going to step on his toes. I’m going to let him close out the way he wants to. I’ve got plenty of time. I’m training, I’m healthy, getting healthy – I’m nearly there. We’ll see what’s up. Madison Square Garden is very appealing.
“I like that stage – I’ve always wanted to fight there. I’ve got to get the right matchup and we’ll see what comes to be.”
Seems like the former UFC and Strikeforce champion is ready for a new challenge in his career. He’s also making some big money outside of the cage, so the UFC will have to pony up.
They apparently did so last week and Rockhold is back as a result. Will he soon return to glory because of it?
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