The former UFC middleweight champion is very happy right now away from the fight game, as he prepares to compete in a grappling event, Polaris 12, later this month. Speaking to MMA Fighting on his UFC future, Rockhold didn’t say he’s definitively retired, but noted he’s “happy” not fighting at the moment.
“My head is content where I’m at right now,” Rockhold said. “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 and then want to come back. I don’t like to close doors on things in life. Right now, I’m just happy not fighting. It feels good to focus on other things.”
Rockhold is certainly one of the most well-rounded fighters the middleweight division has ever seen. He has phenomenal striking, highlighted by his devastating body kicks, as well as a jiu-jitsu game that rivals anyone in the heavier weight classes of the sport. However, in his last two fights, Rockhold has suffered knockout losses.
The first coming against Yoel Romero in February of 2018 for the interim middleweight title, followed by a failed light heavyweight bid against Jan Blachowicz. Perhaps the most memorable knockout loss of Rockhold’s career was his middleweight title loss to Michael Bisping in 2016, where he was knocked out in the first round of his very first middleweight title defense.
Now, having lost three of his last four via knockout, Rockhold has simply lost his hunger for the game.
“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,” Rockhold said. “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 foresee it at this point.
“A couple grappling matches to keep myself entertained in the process, I think the people who tune in will have some fun watching. I’m going to bring it to this kid, and if I do another one, I’m sure it’s going to be fun and entertaining.”
Despite the rocky end to his career, Rockhold can look back on accomplishments few share. He is a former middleweight champion in both the UFC and Strikeforce, a feat that will no doubt solidify him as one of the best in middleweight history.
“I’m happy not fighting. I’m happy being back on the west coast. I’m doing what I’m doing and not worrying with that burden of fighting over my head and pursuing that,” Rockhold said.
“I’ve been doing it for nearly 14 years. I’ve conquered two different companies. I’ve been the best in the world undisputedly. I sleep well with that. Not a lot guys can do that.”
However, Rockhold will never say never in regards to one day returning to fighting action. It’s not in the Californian’s nature to flat out quit something entirely.
“I don’t live my life on nevers,” Rockhold said. “I’m never one to quit something entirely. I don’t want to put a roadblock anywhere in life. I always leave doors open. That’s how I live my life. I’ve fared well for myself thus far. I’m going to keep that mentality and keep that lifestyle. I’m doing what I want to do and creating different outlets. I love it.”
Do you think Rockhold will ever fight in the UFC again?