Luke Rockhold is finally free of injuries and ready to return to action in the UFC. However, one major factor is prohibiting his return, the lack of an opponent.
The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion has not competed since losing to current UFC lightweight champion Jan Blachowicz back in 2019. Rockhold decided to take a hiatus from the sport on a two-fight skid, even hinting at retirement. All that changed when Rockhold announced his return last year. But trying to find an opponent for his return has been challenging.
“There’s a lot of guys but none of them want to sign the contract. Everyone wants to run around,” Rockhold said. “There’s guys that make sense. Uriah Hall was an option – he didn’t want that. Kevin Holland was an option – doesn’t seem like that was an option. (Darren) Till was thrown around, I think people jumped on that one. I’m not opposed to anyone, (Paulo_ Costa, anybody in that range. I mean, the Italian kid (Marvin Vettori) jumped – he beat Kevin Holland and he got a title fight. I just don’t understand that. He beat a guy coming off a loss.”
Rockhold was not shy about his opinion on the status of the division.
“A lot of these guys need to be proven, need to be tested and I’m pretty sure I came off a world title fight. I’ve been inactive but I needed the time off but there’s also injuries and everything I had to assess and then had to take care of. So it’s not exactly my choice but the time off has suited me well. I’ve healed all my issues and I’m ready to go. I just need a fight, an opponent, a contract.”
“I’m here, I’m working, I’m coming,” Luke Rockhold said. “These guys they’re sitting there trying to protect, saying I’m unranked, trying to see what they want to do but guess what, my last fight was against Yoel Romero. He missed weight (and) it was a world title fight. that was at ’85, then I’m fighting the prospective number one contender who is the champion right now at light heavyweight. My record and my status speaks for itself and these kids haven’t really done anything so they don’t have room to talk and run. They need to step up and earn their name in the game.”
Rockhold is not picky; he just wants to fight. Although he’s willing to fight almost anyone in the UFC middleweight division, Rockhold does have one caveat. He’s made it clear that fighting his teammate Derek Brunson is not an option. He also believes that he is still very much a title contender in the division.
“I’ve been working hard, doing everything on my side I can do and I’m just waiting for a contract to be presented that’s something that gets me excited,” Rockhold said. “I’ve waited this long, I’ve done this much in the sport, I’m not coming back just to come back. I’m coming back to get myself excited and I want to get the fans excited and I want to make a run. I know I can. When I’m healthy, I’m focused, I’m present, I just don’t see many people that can compete with me.”
Who would you like to see Luke Rockhold face in his UFC return?