Last night, in the main event of UFC 221, former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold stepped into the cage with the dangerous Yoel Romero. If Rockhold had won this fight, he would have captured the UFC interim middleweight title and effectively guaranteed himself a fight with undisputed middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.
Unfortunately for Rockhold and his fans, Romero was the better man in the cage on fight night. After two close rounds, throughout which Rockhold landed some meaningful offense of his own, Romero landed the shots that mattered most in the third. First, he knocked the former champion on his butt with a left hand. Then, he finished him off with one of the nastiest kill shots we’ve seen in some time.
With this loss, it’s now back to the drawing board for Rockhold. And while the former champion is undoubtedly disappointed, he did take the opportunity to congratulate Romero post-fight. Rockhold issued a quick statement on the fight on Twitter.
Respect to Yoel that man is made of steel.
— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) February 11, 2018
“Respect to Yoel,” Rockhold said in his statement. “That man is made of steel.”
Though there are still plenty of interesting options for Rockhold in the UFC middleweight division – from rematches with Chris Weidman, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Michael Bisping to a fresh showdown with Kelvin Gastelum – he’s also recently floated the idea of packing his bags and heading north to light heavyweight.
“I’m getting older and my bones are getting thicker, and it gets harder to get down to this weight [at middleweight],” Rockhold said at the UFC 221 open workouts in a video captured by Submission Radio. “Having this open workout on a Friday, it’s tough, but I feel good. I’ve got a great team around me. [George] Lockhart and [Dan] Leith have got nutrition down to a science. I’m ahead of schedule and I’ll be fine, but 205 is imminent. [Daniel Cormier] is moving up to heavyweight. He’s not coming back, so I’ll be up there soon.”
What do you think is next for Luke Rockhold?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/11/2018.