Getting That Itch Again: Former UFC, Strikeforce Champ Luke Rockhold Talks Return

Luke Rockhold
Credit: Dave Mandel/

It has been more than a minute since we last saw former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in the cage.

Rockhold (16-5), who won the UFC’s 185lb title in 2015, defeating Chris Weidman in the process only to lose the belt in his first defense — against Michael Bisping — has not competed since an ill-fated attempt to move to light heavyweight last July. That venture saw Rockhold knocked out by Jan Blachowicz, a man now pursuing a title shot against Jon Jones.

In the meantime, it has been all quiet on the Rockhold front. The loss to Blachowicz was his second straight; he was also finished by Yoel Romero a year prior. Consistency has not been the ex-champ’s strong suit of late either, as he’s made the trip to the cage just once a year starting in 2016.

However, the American Kickboxing Academy fighter is apparently feeling the itch to return to fighting.

“I’m getting healthier and I might be getting an itch,” he told MMA UK in a recent interview. “We’ll see.”

The middleweight division has a vastly different look these days, in comparison to the weight class Rockhold competed in during his prime. Weidman has hit hard times, and like Rockhold, made a failed attempt to move to light heavyweight. Jacare Souza did the same. Instead, current champ Israel Adesanya, and names like Jared Cannonier and Jack Hermansson have moved to the forefront.

“A lot of interesting choices,” Rockhold said on the subject (via MMA Fighting). “If Anderson [Silva] is still interested and seemingly he is, maybe, you never know. [Chris] Weidman’s got a fight coming up. If something, he comes out of that well, you never know. There’s options.”

Health, however, is Rockhold’s main concern, and what has kept him away from the cage for nearly a year. “I’ve just got to get healthy. It’s getting healthy and getting everything right and just taking some time off. I’ve been pushing it so hard for 15 years in this sport. It’s nice to have a break, mentally it’s freeing. Get focused on some other things I can do and there’s a lot to maintain and keep up with.”

“We’ll see how the UFC and everyone comes out of this coronavirus epidemic because it’s going to bury a lot of companies,” Rockhold added. “I’m curious to see how these fights come to be.”

The UFC is currently attempting to host a show in the U.S. on May 9. The PFL has pushed back its entire season until 2021, while Bellator MMA has cancelled shows through early June.

If any of this comes as a surprise, especially if you thought Luke Rockhold was retired, it shouldn’t. He never officially retired, for good reason. “People just do it to seek attention,” he stated. “I’m not trying to like make some big statement, make attention about it when I’m not sure about it.” That’s why, he said, he kept his mouth shut on the retirement topic.