Former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold is looking to prove that he can compete with the new generation of fighters when he makes his return to the Octagon.
For the past year, Rockhold has made his desire to make another push for more MMA glory. The 37-year-old, who held the 185-pound title after dethroning Chris Weidman in late 2015, hasn’t been in action for almost three years.
After losing the belt to Michael Bisping and rebounding with TKO victory over David Branch, Rockhold made what would be his last appearance at middleweight to date, falling to Yoel Romero in 2018. A failed venture to light heavyweight a year later, which saw him brutally knocked out by then-future champion Jan Blachowicz, was the last time fans saw the Santa Cruz native lace the gloves.
And despite a comeback fight falling through last year courtesy of a herniated disc, Rockhold appears to be as hungry as ever. Ahead of a booked fight with top-five contender Paulo Costa, the former titleholder has consistently posted training and workout footage on social media.
During a recent appearance on Submission Radio, Rockhold discussed his journey back to competition and the rediscovery of his motivation. While his focus may have drifted in the past, the veteran said he’s fully tuned-in now.
“We’re always on a ride and an adventure. At different points, you lose track of that ceiling,” said Rockhold. “This time, I’m in a good state of mind and I’m just ready to go… I’m focused on killing motherf*ckers put in front of me.”
Rockhold: “I Still Got it, I Want it”
Having not competed in the middleweight division for well over four years, the landscape of the weight class is understandably very different from when Rockhold left it, with a new breed of 185lbers taking center stage.
Having put his body to the limit in the gym to assess where he’s at, both physically and mentally, Rockhold has come to the conclusion that he’s still got it and, perhaps more importantly, still wants it.
“It’s just being honest with yourself and your body, and what you’re really capable of… I wanted to give myself that opportunity.” said Rockhold. “I put my body to the limit… Physically doing everything I can, and then mentally, once I’m physically there, which I’ve figured out, put myself in front of killers and perform, know I still got it, I want it.
“When the going gets tough, when you’re f*cking broken and bruised, and you don’t wanna f*cking get back up and go to the gym, and you gotta go spar some young hungry kid, that’s when you’re gonna know if you want it or not. I’m still not gonna let these kids get the best of me, so, f*ck it, let’s go.”
After a few months of rumors, a bout between Rockhold and Costa was recently confirmed for the UFC 277 pay-per-view, slated for July 30. However, during the same interview on Submission Radio, Rockhold confirmed that the Brazilian is attempting to push the fight back to August 20.
Do you think Luke Rockhold can make a successful return to the UFC?