A former UFC champion has decided not to retire after all. Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold revealed to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that he plans on heading back inside the UFC’s Octagon again soon. When asked what made the 35-year-old change his mind, Rockhold responded, “because I felt like it.”
It’s hard to argue with that logic.
The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion is coming off a loss and an injury, but he still plans to get back to work inside the UFC’s stacked 185-pound middleweight division by the end of the year.
More About the UFC’s Stacked Middleweight Division
The current UFC middleweight champion is undefeated phenom Israel Adesanya. Adesanya is set to face middleweight monster Paulo Costa in his next fight in the main event of UFC 253 on September 19.
With those two fighters at the top of the 185-pound heap right now, Rockhold is likely hoping to notch some 185-pound victories a level or so below that so he can figure into the title picture as soon as possible.
But that won’t be easy.
Rockhold’s last fight was a second-round stoppage loss to Jan Blachowicz in a light heavyweight contest at UFC 239 in July 2019. Before that, Rockhold lost via third-round stoppage to middleweight menace Yoel Romero at UFC 221 in February 2018.
So Rockhold’s best days might be behind him now.
Other top middleweight contenders include former champion Robert Whittaker, who looked excellent in beating Darren Till in his last fight, as well as Jared Cannonier and Jack Hermansson.
Rockhold might be an ex-UFC champ, but he has a long ladder to climb if he hopes to work his way back up the rankings.
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Rockhold Hopes to Return by End of 2020
Still, former UFC champ Rockhold definitely has plans to fight for UFC gold again before he calls it quits. Rockhold told Helwani he’s reversing field after saying it was “very possible” last year that he would never fight again.
Now the American hopes to be back by the end of 2020.
Rockhold told Helwani he still has about a month left of rehab on his surgically repaired shoulder. After that, Rockhold said he hopes to be sharing the cage against the likes of fellow former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman in a rematch. Weidman, 36, defeated Omari Akhmedov over the weekend to keep his own hopes of recapturing UFC gold alive, so it might make sense to pit the two former 185-pound champs against each other to see which one can move up the ladder.
While Rockhold (16-5) has lost three out of his last four fights, he was once considered one of the top MMA fighters in the world. The long rest and recovery he’s had since his last fight could conceivably make the fighter as dangerous as ever upon his return.
That has to be what Rockhold is hoping after announcing his MMA career is going to continue.
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