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Morning Report: Luke Rockhold sympathizes with Robert Whittaker’s comments about being ‘burnt out’: ‘I think it’s just finding the hunger once you get to the top of the world’

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Luke Rockhold puts his belt on the line at UFC 199 on Saturday night.
Luke Rockhold puts his belt on the line at UFC 199 on Saturday night.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Earlier this week, former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker revealed that his current hiatus from fighting has not been due to any injury or illness, but to the fact that he’s “completely burnt out” from fighting. And another former middleweight champion knows exactly how he feels.

Speaking with Submission Radio recently, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold said that he understands Whittaker’s feelings about being burnt out and that he believes it also affected his own career.

“People want to talk sh*t from afar and don’t understand what fighting is,” Rockhold said. “Getting to the top of the world and fighting those wars that Whittaker put in and having a family, I can’t really imagine what that does to you. You don’t want to do that forever. That’s why I never really introduced a family to this lifestyle, because it’s a lot to handle and I see a lot of people that I don’t understand how they manage it. . .

“I think it’s just finding the hunger once you get to the top of the world. . . You’ve gotten there, you’ve done that, what more do you want? It’s not for everybody to keep following that path. I feel like there was a tremendous weight off my shoulders and that’s why I can see where Whittaker would - he’d proven that, he’d defended that, and he’d done it a few times and proved himself. So finding that motivation and that hunger to keep going on with that same passion, I think that’s the biggest key.”

Rockhold won the UFC middleweight title in 2015, but since then, few things have gone right for him inside the cage. He lost his title to Michael Bisping in June of the next year and since then has gone 1-2 in the octagon, with both losses coming by way of vicious KO. His last one, after a move up to light heavyweight that was meant to reinvigorate his career, sparked retirement talk from Rockhold and the media and the former champion has not been seen in the cage since.

That could change soon though. Rockhold recently suggested that he may be “getting an itch” to fight again and it appears that his extended hiatus from the sport is has helped the former champion moved past his own feelings of being burnt out, or at least, it’s trending in that direction.

“Last couple fights haven’t really, obviously, sat well with me,” Rockhold said. “I think I’ve made mistakes along the way and I’ve got to get everything right if I’m gonna do it again. I don’t like the way we’ve - I’d like to finish it differently. . .

“I never shut it out because I knew I might comeback. I do love to fight. I’ve been a fighter for 15 years so it’s been a long stretch of fighting and sometimes you just kinda get distracted and burnt out and are kinda forcing it. I think the time away has really helped. Helped me just relax. And then you start to want it a little more. So I’m not saying it’s there yet but it’s warming up. It’s warming up. It’s about getting my body healthy too. It’s a lot of little things.”

Should Rockhold return, there will be no shortage of opponents for the former champion, at either middleweight or light heavyweight but Rockhold says possibly the biggest obstacles in his path right now is finding the right path for a return. Despite his recent record, the former champion is still looking for big fights.

“I never put barriers on what I do and that’s why I never committed to retirement,” Rockhold said. “It’s a fact that I do love fighting. It’s like nothing else, stepping in there and doing your thing. It’s just being focused and really wanting it and not just doing it to do it. I do like it. I’ve got to pick a direction on where I want to go, maybe a catch(weight) fight or pick the right opponent, somebody who is gonna get me excited and up to fight. I have done a lot. I’m not just gonna go fight a bunch of chumps who are gonna do nothing for me. I want to be excited about it and I want it to mean something. So there’s some things. We’ve got to put the puzzle pieces together and we’ve got to figure out this direction.”

The two most common opponents thrown out as possible fights for a Rockhold return are indeed big names: Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva. Silva is, of course, considered the greatest middleweight of all time and Weidman is the man Rockhold defeated to take the title himself. And when asked if he had a preference between the two, Rockhold was clear.

“I’m not huge on retracing my footsteps,” Rockhold said. “Sometimes it’s exciting to do that. Rarely it is but I like to pave a new path everywhere I go, for the most part. That should answer your question.”


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FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL

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