Former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold has explained how he no longer has the “same passion” for mixed-martial-arts as he once had, but refused to shut the door on a potential return in the future.
The Californian most recently made the move to light heavyweight in an attempt to reinvigorate a faltering career, but fell short of a victory as he suffered a broken jaw in a second round knockout to recent UFC Fight Night Sao Paulo winner, Jan Blachowicz. The 35-year-old has won just once since 2017, picking up a submission win over former WSOF multiple-weight champion David Branch, either side of knockout defeats to arch-rival, Michael Bisping, Poland’s Blachowicz, and in devastating fashion, Yoel Romero. In an interview with MMA Fighting, Rockhold expressed his feelings regarding the ‘fight-game’ and just where his head is at regarding his future in the sport.
“My head is content where I’m at right now. I’ve done a lot of things in the sport. I’m not trying to be a headline maker. I’m not trying to say I’m going to retire then want to come back. I don’t like to close doors on things in life. Fighting takes a lot. I’ve done it. I’ve been to the top of the game. I just don’t have the same passion, the hunger for it at this point. I’m excited to go in other realms of life. I know I have a lot of fans out there. I’m sorry I’m not fighting but you never know. Maybe someday I will but I don’t for see it a this point.”
Rockhold, who began his professional career in 2007, has only tasted defeat five times, and is a very capable Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner as well as an accomplished kickboxer. The Santa Cruz native edged out Brazilian grappler Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza to win the middleweight championship during the pair’s tenure in the now defunct Strikeforce promotion, before going on to land two consecutive title defenses against Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy.
Upon his move to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Rockhold was handed a loss on his debut with the company, as Vitor Belfort landed an iconic wheel kick in Brazil. On his route to the 185-pound gold, Rockhold stopped both Michael Bisping and Lyoto Machida, before a championship triumph over Chris Weidman at UFC 194 in 2015.
These comments from Rockhold follow calls from UFC President Dana White for the former middleweight champion to consider retirement after his July loss to Blachowicz. Speaking at the post-fight press conference, White outlined Rockhold’s success outside of the Octagon as a career switch option. “I think Luke Rockhold should talk about hanging it up. He broke his jaw tonight, so that’s the second broken jaw, he’s been knocked out viciously a few times here (in the UFC), shin is all banged up, he had to have shin grafts and all kinds of stuff. He’s had a good career, he’s been a great fighter. I’d like to see him hang it up. He’s got another career than he’s actually doing well at. It’s not like he’s like – everybody is a f**king model, I’m a model. I’m a model. That guy’s actually modelling for Ralph Lauren, so good for him.”
Rockhold has been earmarked to meet ADCC runner-up Nick Rodriguez at grappling event Polaris 12 at the end of November, and paired with his modelling exploits with Polo Ralph Lauren, the former world champion seems content to weigh up his options outside of the sport for the time being.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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