Luke Rockhold claims he’s ‘finally getting a little fire back’ ahead of projected summer return

Rockhold
Mandatory Credit: Esther Lin – MMA Fighting

Former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold recently revealed that he would be open to a return to mixed martial arts sometime this summer following a lengthy hiatus away, claiming that he’s “finally getting a little fire back” ahead of his potential Octagon return this year.

The Californian has yet to feature since his light heavyweight division debut at UFC 239 in July 2019, where he suffered a broken jaw in a second round knockout loss to now-champion, Jan Blachowicz.

Still recovering and recuperating following surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum in his shoulder, Rockhold recently spoke about his interest in a potential Octagon comeback this summer, once his body is 100% capable of making a return to active competition.

They’ve (the UFC) been reaching out, talking, just keeping tabs on my situation and letting me know that they’re interested. As am I. When the time’s right, when something really kind of appeals to me, it’s sexy. I want to come back for something that gets me excited, and I want to come back when I’m ready — when my body’s ready. And I think early, late summer would be ideal. It’s just matching up with the right person and the right thing that’s going to put me to where I want. I’m not looking to just play around. I’m wanna go straight to the gut of this division. And most likely 185 (-pounds). Not ruling out 205 (-pounds). But I really just gotta push my body to get in shape and see where it wants to go. Right now, I’m light. I’m like 205-208 (-pounds) right now, and I think that legitimately it’s going to be looking like I’m going back to middleweight. But we will see. If something pops up, you never know. If a fight falls apart — like many injuries do and COVID(-19) and everything that happens, I could be ready sooner than later.

I’ve been working, man. I’ve been trying to get my body back. My shoulder’s been an issue, an ongoing problem. That’s been kind of the whole hold-back and why I’m still doing my thing, still on the outskirts. They’re not easy, shoulder rehabs are not fun. If anybody has had a shoulder surgery, it’s like I just can’t get to one hundred percent confidence in it. I’m almost there, but it’s just been a long, arduous process, and I’m coming along, just ready to do my thing. And the world is coming back around, so it’s making things a little more available and easier. So, little by little.

Flirting with a return to his prior middleweight stomping ground as well as a prolonged stay at light heavyweight, Rockhold, who turns 37-years-old in October, spoke about how a fire has begun to take off within in, ahead of a potential return to MMA.

I think realistically, I think this summertime, a late-summer return,” Rockhold said during a recent interview with TMZ Sports. “I just gotta get my body right. My shoulder’s been an ongoing issue but it’s finally coming around. I’m getting to the point where I have confidence in it to let it go. I’m pressing. I’m pressing to get into shape. It feels good. It feels good to get back in the gym. I’m finally getting a little fight back.

I believe 185-pounds is my calling,” Rockhold explained. “I’m about 205-pounds right now, I’m just naturally there. It wasn’t really me to bulk up. I was lifting weights and doing my thing to get up to 205-pounds, and I could barely hold 215-pounds or 220-pounds max at best. So I feel good. This is my championship weight, this is where I’ve done all my damage, and I like the route to victory and what’s ahead of me. So, I’m ready to go.

A twenty-one fight professional veteran, Rockhold holds a 16-5 record, scoring gold under both the UFC and Strikeforce banner, as well as two further gold medals at World Jiu-Jitsu Championships in 2007. 

From his sixteen professional victories, the Santa Cruz native has bested the likes of Jacare Souza, Keith Jardine, Tim Kennedy, Costas Philippou, Michael Bisping, Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, and David Branch. 

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