Luke Rockhold is coming off of a knockout loss to Yoel Romero at UFC 221 in what will most likely be his last middleweight fight. The former champ has moved up to light heavyweight and will take on sixth-ranked Jan Blachowicz on the main card of UFC 239. It is a tough first test for Rockhold to make his 205-pound debut, but one that can set him up for the future in the division.
Although Rockhold is unranked at light heavyweight, the 34-year-old is a big name. With a win, he will no doubt be fighting for UFC gold. At light heavyweight, Jon Jones has practically cleared out the entire division. He has wins over Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, Anthony Smith, and will fight Thiago Santos on Saturday. The only top five light heavyweight he has yet to beat is Dominick Reyes, but what would the UFC rather do? Luke Rockhold vs. Jon Jones? Or, Dominick Reyes vs. Jon Jones? It is clearly a big money fight for Jones, and if they win on Saturday, Rockhold vs. Jones is the fight to make.
To be fair to Dominick Reyes, he is a heck of a fighter. But, his biggest win to date is against Volkan Oezdemir and will need another win before he gets his shot. Rockhold, on the other hand, has beaten the likes of Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping, Lyoto Machida, and Ronaldo Souza among others. He also was the Strikeforce middleweight champion and has beaten the who’s who of the middleweight division.
Luke Rockhold has also been calling for the Jones fight since he announced his move to light heavyweight. He has said it is a fight he has been studying for and preparing for a long time. And, it seems likely it happens very soon.
Rockhold, as well, has been a proven draw, which is a bonus for the UFC and ESPN. UFC 199, a card he headlined against Michael Bisping did an estimated 320,000 buys. Although his last pay-per-view, UFC 221, only did 150,000, it is not terrible considering there were no championship fights. And, there were no marquee names other than Rockhold and Romero.
Add in the fact that Luke Rockhold finishes fights, and is only an inch smaller than Jones, where many past opponents have been much smaller, it is a very intriguing fight.
Rockhold has proven his cardio is there to go five hard rounds with the champion, which many past opponents have faded late in the fight. He is also a high-level wrestler and could keep the fight on the feet where anything can happen.
For Jon Jones, a win over Luke Rockhold is yet another impressive win on his record. It secures himself as the greatest of all-time, and the fight can happen in late 2019, or early 2020. It also buys time for the heavyweight division to play out. Everyone wants to see Jones fight at heavyweight, and if he gets past Santos and Rockhold it is fair to say there is no one else in the division. He then can fight the likes of Francis Ngannou and Stipe Miocic among others. But, he must have a date with Rockhold before then.
First, all Luke Rockhold has to do is beat Jan Blachowicz, which eight others have been able to do. Should he do that, there is no question the former middleweight champion will be fighting for UFC gold once again and gets the fight he wants, and the biggest fight at 205-pounds, excluding the Daniel Cormier trilogy fight, for Jon Jones.