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Luke Rockhold: ‘I wouldn’t mind taking fights at heavyweight just for fun’

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UFC 199 Open Workouts Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

As of Monday, May 9, Luke Rockhold said he weighed right around 208 pounds — the perfect weight to whittle back to 185 pounds if a fight to his liking opened up, but also an adequate weight for his ultimate Plan B if one doesn’t. That is, taking some fights at heavyweight.

Rockhold voiced his displeasure with the UFC on a recent edition of The MMA Hour, essentially saying he would not take a fight unless there was a clear and reasonable path to a title shot, while also encouraging his fellow middleweight contenders Yoel Romero, Gegard Mousasi and Robert Whittaker to take a similar track and refuse to fight until some kind of resolution is reached, like the interim title fight at UFC 213 that was subsequently given to both Romero and Whittaker.

Yet Rockhold himself is ready to fight on if needed, and he’s very serious about moonlighting as a light heavyweight — or even heavyweight, where he has a long-standing feud with former champ Fabricio Werdum.

Rockhold reiterated his seriousness of moving up in weight class on the show.

“I’m here to fight, one way or the other,” he said on The MMA Hour. “But the [middleweight] division itself is annoying, and I’m not holding to that either. I’m hoping to move up a division. I’ve voiced that so, if this division’s going to go the way it’s going, might as well move up and do a different division.”

Rockhold asked the UFC for a fight against Werdum back in February, wanting to squash a beef that extended back to the Strikeforce days under Scott Coker, when the two fighters had frequent encounters at shows.

It’s been eleven months since Rockhold lost his middleweight title to Bisping at UFC 199, and during that time he has grown increasingly dismayed with the UFC’s handling of the division. Bisping made his first title defense against Dan Henderson at UFC 204, a left-field option that didn’t sit well with the top contenders at the time.

Then Bisping was been booked into a fight with former welterweight champion St-Pierre, who has never competed as a middleweight, which has only served to ruffle more feathers in the ranks. That’s why Rockhold said he’s open to changing philosophy if the UFC is going to book “fun” fights instead of abide by pecking orders.

And a move up to 205, even with his AKA training partner Daniel Cormier holding the title there, or heavyweight is just the thing.

“[DC’s not going to fight forever, so I don’t know,” Rockhold said. “There’s plenty of other guys that can dance around and fight. I wouldn’t mind taking fights at heavyweight just for fun. I mean, if it’s just about having fun and getting paid, I’d rather go fight somewhere else. I would rather fight in a different division. Because I’m not going to fight the best guys at middleweight to get to nowhere. I’d rather fight fights that are fun, for me, and get me excited. Picking off people like Werdum.”

Rockhold said he made a genuine effort to make the Werdum fight happen, but that ultimately it was Werdum that had second thoughts.

“I was serious,” he said. “I came to the UFC, came to everybody, and I talked about it. I believe they brought it to him and I believe he got cold feet. He turned around. He thinks he’s close to a title shot, which I think is a joke because the last thing they want is Werdum back in a title shot. But yeah, he got cold feet. He got a little scared and ran the other way. I love the match up. I’d love to go fight that guy.”

As for standing in against men well north of 250 pounds, the svelte Rockhold said he wasn’t intimidated by the size differences he would encounter as a heavyweight. After all, he has sparred with the likes of Cain Velasquez and Cormier for years up in San Jose.

“I’m not going to try and gain a bunch of weight,” he said. “What do I need? I fight the best heavyweights all the time. I know what I’m capable of in that division. I’ve got a lot of guys that come through. I train a lot of different areas, so I’d do quite well at heavyweight.”