When Yoel Romero knocked Luke Rockhold out at UFC 221, it threw the former middleweight champion’s career into disarray. Having being brutally knocked out in two of his last three fights since winning the belt, in almost identical fashion no less, the question became, “Where does Rockhold go from here?” For a brief moment it appeared that Rockhold may be heading for a rubber match with the man who took the 185-pound belt from him, Michael Bisping, but now it appears that Rockhold has his sights set a little higher.
Speaking with Submission Radio recently, Rockhold announced that he had given up on a third fight with Bisping and was making preparations for his move to light heavyweight.
“I think it’s pretty much sure that I’m going up,” said Rockhold. “Bisping’s not gonna, he’s not gonna want the fight. He’s never wanted the fight. He knows what happened last time around, and so he’s gonna run his mouth, he’s gonna talk about it, try to build up his podcast, get his little goons behind him, but realistically he’s been scared of this fight from the start. And the UFC have tried to make it happen, and he just, he danced around it as best he could and they’re sure that – they want it still, but they’re sure it’s not gonna happen. So I’ve been informed to move on. . .
“I’m over it. I’m ready to move on and to do something that makes sense to me right now, and there’s opportunity at light heavyweight.”
Rockhold has always been one of the bigger middleweights in the division and, though he has never failed to make weight in his career, he says the cut to 185 pounds has been getting increasingly worse. The reprieve from the weight cut makes for an appetizing proposition for the former champion.
“The weight cut is just, it’s taking too much of a toll on me, man,” said Rockhold. “I felt completely drained and I lose a lot of my strength. And the last time around it wasn’t… it just gets worse and worse. I felt depleted. So I’m looking forward to building up, getting healthy and getting some meat on my bones and tossing some weight around at light heavyweight.”
Not only would Rockhold have to cut less weight though, but according to him he also would be facing a lower level of competition. Rockhold believes that 205 pounds is mostly a thing division and, more to the point, he already has some built in beef with one of light heavyweight’s top talents, Alexander Gustafsson. Rockhold and Gustafsson have been going back-and-forth since Rockhold announced his intention to move up to 205 pounds, with Rockhold saying he was “coming for that ass” and Gustafsson calling Rockhold “chinny” but Rockhold admits that he isn’t talking about Gustafsson when he’s addressing the relatively paltry nature of light heavyweight talent.
“I don’t think they’re as technical in many ways,” said Rockhold. “I think Alexander [Gustafsson] is one that stands above and beyond most of those guys. But for the most part, a lot of those guys, it’s not a deep division by any means. Alexander was always one of the true tests at that division and I’ll give him that respect. I wasn’t really referring to him [as easy], but beyond that there’s a lot of guys that are open.”
Gustafsson is currently on a two-fight winning streak, with back-to-back wins over Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira. He is ostensibly next in line for a shot at Daniel Cormier’s light heavyweight title but Cormier is currently set to return to heavyweight later this summer for a superfight with champion Stipe Miocic. Rockhold has a solution to that dilemma though: let him stand in for Cormier and fight Gustafsson with 12 pounds of gold on the line.
“There’s a lot of interest in the fight,” said Rockhold. “He’s a guy that’s been right there, that’s only lost to champions. He’s the top, he’s the cream of the crop in the division. You beat him, you basically are the champion. The only problem is that DC is the champion. So, what? I go fight Alexander Gustafsson when DC is fighting for the heavyweight title? I’m not gonna fight Gustafsson for nothing, and I’m not gonna put myself in the position where it creates a weird moment for me and DC. So, I think it all depends on what happens with this fight with him and Stipe. If that goes forward, yeah, I mean, I’ll fight Gustafsson. But once you beat Gustafsson, if DC’s out – If I beat Gustafsson, I should be the f*cking champion [laughs]. Just realistically. And I mean, if you think about it, he is the man to beat, other than DC. And so the whole division is in a weird space. It’s almost similar to how the middleweight division was. I guess it’s a little tied up at the moment. You kind of have to wait and see what happens in July.”
Beef. ‘Baby Slice’ seeks future fight with member of Dada 5000’s crew in Miami.
A ton of BTS footage here.
A look at Dustin Poirier’s life outside the cage.
Important self-defense lessons.
Some more Mayweather in MMA talk.
The latest installment of this excellent series.
After the Beat. Answering the best questions posed from fans.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
#TeamElCucuy I Hate Sitting On The Sidelines, but “belt or no belt I won’t allow that to define me...” This Is #MyRoadToRecoveryXT #TonyFergusonMMA SnapJitsu™️ #SnapDownCity -Champ pic.twitter.com/L7VjrgaF5H— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) April 12, 2018
Grampy’s quote of the day. “17 grand is good for a loser.” Haha— Kyle Bochniak UFC (@KyleBochniak) April 12, 2018
July return means Woodley likely isn’t planning on fighting the winner of the interim title bout.
Just because I’m silent don’t mean I’m not on my #SavageShit . Lots of tricks up my sleeve. Looking for a July return and some surprising new projects on the horizon. #MonsterMoment— Tyron T-Wood Woodley (@TWooodley) April 12, 2018
Captured by: @hansmolenkamp Fueled By: @monsterenergy @musclemonster #TrainLikeAMonster pic.twitter.com/S3bz3bDz5z
Your eyes water when you yawn because you miss your bed and it makes you sad.— Belal muhammad (@bullyb170) April 12, 2018
Abdulmanap’s reaction when Khabib wins the title.
Вот она искренность! Не каждый в жизни может испытать такие эмоции. Эмоции пройденного пути. Эмоции счастья за успех сына. Эмоции, ради которых было проделано десятки лет трудной и кропотливой работы. Абдулманап Магомедович вложил в «орла» все свои силы и результат очень большой. Благодаря правильному воспитанию Хабибу Нурмагомедову удалось завоевать главный трофей - пояс UFC. Р/S Легендарная ночь для российского ММА. Первые секунды после завоевания титула чемпиона нашего земляка в лёгком весе.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
Another fight weekend is upon us and this one has a potential Fight of the Year candidate as the headliner. I know the card is 14 fights long and that’s insane but at least most of them are pretty good bouts. Hope y’all are ready for the long haul this weekend. Take it easy and see y’all on Monday.
Who wins tomorrow night?
This poll is closed
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.