Retired Ex-Champ Says He’ll ‘Be Back’ Right After Israel Adesanya Loses UFC Belt

Israel Adesanya & Alex Pereira

Getty (L-R) Israel Adesanya & Alex Pereira

Longtime UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya lost his belt to Alex Pereira on Saturday and immediately after ex-185-pound king Luke Rockhold shared that he’d “be back.”

“Poatan” and Adesanya dueled as the UFC 281 headliner at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 12. It was the third combat sports meeting between the two. Pereira had earned two prior victories over “The Last Stylebender” in kickboxing.

And after a hard-fought four rounds, Pereira picked up another stoppage victory over Adesanya, defeating him via fifth-round TKO.

Pereira (7-1) handed Adesanya his first loss as a 185-pound mixed martial artist, and he is now the 12th combatant to hoist undisputed UFC middleweight gold. Well, the seventh fighter to become a UFC 185-pound champion may be motivated to make a comeback due to Pereira’s success.

“I’ll be back,” Rockhold tweeted right after Pereira stopped The Last Stylebender.

Rockhold announced his retirement from the sport after his three-round thriller against Paulo Costa at UFC 278 in August. If Rockhold is hinting at returning to the Octagon, he’s likely looking at Pereira’s potential grappling deficiencies. Adesanya, a fighter not known for implementing a ground game, had success controlling Pereira on the ground during Saturday night’s fight.

On paper, Rockhold (16-6) is a much more accomplished jiu-jitsu player and he boasts eight wins via submission.

Rockhold Recently Expressed Interest in Potentially Boxing

This isn’t the first time Rockhold has hinted at potentially fighting again. He recently told MMA Junkie that he could see himself trying his hands at boxing.

“I love physical stress, no doubt,” Rockhold said (h/t MMA News). “I will definitely look to chase adversity and discomfort. I’m not opposed to boxing; my legs need a f***** break. So, if there’s some interesting people with the right people in the right promotion, I’d love to test myself. New ventures are always great.”

A day after Jake Paul bested former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a boxing match, Rockhold took to Twitter and posted: “I beat Silva in boxing. Bet the house.”

Rockhold Also Said He Would Never Shut the Door on Mixed Martial Arts

Rockhold has been a professional mixed martial artist since 2007 and along with capturing UFC gold, he was the final Strikeforce middleweight champion. And the American recently said he’d “never” shut the door on fighting in MMA again.

But first, the 38-year-old American wants to focus on his health.

“Sometimes I struggle back and forth thinking how I want to approach this, but too many people hide behind their words, not how they really feel,” Rockhold said on Instagram via MMA Junkie. “But, I want to retire. I want to work on life like I did a f****** fraction of on my break, but I want to get my f****** body together, get my health together. Health is wealth, ultimately, and my body is f****** deteriorating and a fight doesn’t help that.

“So, I want to get my body back, but I’ll never close the door (on MMA). Once I get my health fully back, and I get my body where I want, and I start performing and not hurting myself, (then) maybe, maybe, maybe, I’ll make another run at this thing – one, two, three years down the line. I honestly feel like I’m only getting better. The way I’m treating my body and changing the game.”

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