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Morning Report: Luke Rockhold return possible if Alex Pereira wins title: ‘Let’s get the free belt’

UFC 278: Costa v Rockhold Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Luke Rockhold sees a potential clash with Alex Pereira as a rather favorable matchup.

The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion retired from the sport immediately following his recent appearance at UFC 278 in August. Dropping a hard-fought unanimous decision to Paulo Costa in the evening’s co-main event, Rockhold went out on his shield and took home the first Fight of the Night bonus in his 11-fight run with the company.

One month before Rockhold’s final walk, Pereira established himself as the next in line atop the division, knocking out Sean Strickland in emphatic fashion at UFC 276. The Brazilian kickboxing sensation now has his date with current champion Israel Adesanya locked in for UFC 281 on Nov. 12 in Madison Square Garden.

If “Poatan” can pull off a third combat sports career victory over “The Last Stylebender,” it may be enough to pull Rockhold out of what would be a short-lived retirement.

“That Brazilian dude winning the title. Alex Pereira,” Rockhold told Submission Radio when asked what could inspire him to return. “He’s gonna have every wrestler in the f****** game just chomping at the bit to get that guy. Let’s go. Let’s get the free belt.

“The only thing is you gotta fight Robert Whitaker or some s*** in between. It’s like, f***, [that’s] gonna hurt. Cause win or lose with Robert Whitaker, that s*** hurts. That s***’s gonna hurt, we’re gonna fight.”

With three consecutive losses since Sept. 2017, Rockhold would undeniably have to work his way to a title shot upon a return. However, his thought process likely isn’t alone when it comes to how most at 185-pounds are looking at the talented striker. The 6-1 Pereira has yet to be truly tested by a great grappler in his MMA career and stylistically, someone like Rockhold would pose an intriguing threat in that area — assuming he could come in at peak form.

Now 37 years old, the former American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) staple admitted he was “too old for this s***” during his final post-fight interview in the cage after his Costa loss. While having his moments during the fight, Rockhold’s gas tank faded quicker than it ever had in his career prior.

The three years away took their toll, to say the least.

“I’m telling you, just going into that fight week, I was so beat down and just exhausted and mentally broken from seven months of it,” Rockhold said. “You know, it’s like, is my body still ready? And it’s hard to conceptualize walking into that cage when you’ve been hurt so far along the track, but I just refused to pull away. You know, you invest into this thing that you’ve committed to. So it’s, whatever happens, happens, kind of thing. You just gotta go. And it’s not like where I wanted to be going in the fight. Coming back from that long time off and not really doing a lot through COVID.

“I obviously feel like I could do a lot better. I feel like I could beat Paul Costa’s ass any day of the week if I was back on my game, it’d be over. And I see the rest of the vision. I feel like I’m getting better, but I just don’t wanna get hurt anymore. It sucks. And then you gotta watch out for your health in the long run. I’ve done a lot. Do I need to do more? I don’t know yet. Let me get in the gym and keep moving, keep thinking. But if I get inspired … if someone inspires me to get back and you know … you never know.”


Results. DWCS Season 6, Week 10: Bo Nickal needs 52 seconds to finish opponent, leads 5-contract night

Skills. Mackenzie Dern praises Charles Oliveira as the best grappler in the sport: ‘He has the best jiu-jitsu in MMA’

Pacing. Aaron Pico offers advice to Bo Nickal ahead of potential UFC career: ‘There’s no need to rush’

Nasty. Chris Barnett details cheek injury, weight issue at UFC 279

Whoops. Martin Batur gets year suspension, ONE Championship 160 win overturned to no-contest after positive PED test

Departure. Aspen Ladd released from UFC roster following latest weight miss

Update. USADA responds after Conor McGregor’s 2022 drug test history raises questions


The last Contender Series presser of the season.

Randy’s corner 2.

Revisiting Chandler vs. the Pitbulls.

Mike Perry things.


Fighter vs. Writer. MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin chats with Aaron Pico and Max Rohskopf.

Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses what should headline UFC 282 and UFC 283.



Strap season.

Well, alright.


He can’t be stopped.


Roster expansion.


The hype is real.


The great combat sports trade of 2022.


Vote Fancy.

Mom champ.

Action shots.


Allen bros 2.0?


Vince Morales (11-6) vs. Jose Johnson (15-7); UFC Vegas 65, Nov. 19

Shane Burgos (15-3) vs. Marlon Moraes (23-10-1); PFL 2022 Championship, Nov. 26

Rafael dos Anjos (31-14) vs. Bryan Barberena (18-8); UFC Orlando, Dec. 3


Prime Rockhold is one of the more underrated fighters we’ve ever seen. Oh, how I wish we’d have gotten to see more of him than we did. 11 fights in the UFC feels like far too few.

Thanks for reading!



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