The frustrations over not being booked against the right opponent have former UFC champion Luke Rockhold prepared to go elsewhere.
MMA veteran Luke Rockhold has been signed with the UFC since 2013. In that time, he was able to reach the pinnacle of the middleweight division when he defeated Chris Weidman at UFC 194 to become the world champion. Then, it was all downhill from there.
Rockhold would drop the title in his first title defense to Michael Bisping in what was one of the biggest upsets in UFC history and then go on to lose two of his next three bouts after that. Most recently, Rockhold was knocked out by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239 in his light heavyweight debut two years ago.
After the fight, Rockhold’s future in the sport was uncertain, especially after UFC President Dana White expressed that he believed Rockhold should retire after being knocked out for the third time in four fights.
Luke Rockhold Waiting For UFC To Make Return Worthwhile
After taking some time for himself for about a year, Rockhold decided that he would not be retiring. And this year, he has been campaigning for a fight against an opponent who excites him but has only been paired with the foe of frustration instead. Rockhold is losing that battle but is looking to mount a comeback now that there can be an arena full of fans to cheer him on.
“It feels good to see the world come back, filling up an arena and getting that energy back into the game. That’s what sparks us to want to thrive in that spotlight,” Rockhold told MMA Fighting. “That’s what it’s all about. Fighting in an empty arena, it just doesn’t sound as cool and doesn’t feel the same way. When you’re watching fights during the pandemic, there’s nothing there, you can’t even feel it.
“Now it’s a different feeling and everything’s coming back to full fruition and makes it more exciting to come back, especially when you’re just getting healthy, too. I’m finally getting my health back, my freedom of movement and I’m f*ckin’ ready. And I need the right f*ckin’ dance partner.”
Rockhold Demands Release If Not Granted “Exciting” Opponent
Luke Rockhold claims he was nearing a deal to fight Khamzat Chimaev next month, but the word going around is that Chimaev has opted to remain at welterweight instead of floating back and forth between 170 and 185. This rumor is supported by Chimaev being paired to fight welterweight Li Jingliang next. This leaves Rockhold back where he started, without an opponent and not getting any younger.
If the UFC is unable or unwilling to pair him with an opponent who motivates him, the former middleweight champion would rather just be released from his contract.
“But I ain’t gonna take anything that doesn’t excite me. I’m not just gonna step up and fight somebody that doesn’t excite me or doesn’t excite my fans. There’s no point. I’ve been doing that. I’ve been a Strikeforce champ, I’ve been UFC world champ, I don’t need to come back and fight some bum that doesn’t f*cking get me excited. I’d rather just not come back.
If you want me to fight, give me something that excites me. Give me something that excites my fans, my people, and all of us. Otherwise, f*ck off and let me go because I ain’t gonna do that…
“I’m f*ckin 36 years old. I’ve achieved the heights and I want something that gets me excited. I believe I’m still one of the best guys in the world and I came from the No. 2 spot in the world. I lost a world title fight to Yoel Romero. None of these motherf*ckers in the top 10 would fight Yoel Romero in his heyday. I lost a f*ckin’ world title fight and I stepped away from the division. I’m not coming back to fight some bum.”
Who would you like to see Luke Rockhold fight next?