The next move for Luke Rockhold is light heavyweight. It’s something he’s been vocal about even before UFC 211, where he suffered a loss to Yoel Romero. He’s since doubled down on the move and had already been called out by Alexander Gustafsson, which is fight Rockhold is very interested in. Still, some fans doubt his commitment or decision to move up, but the former UFC middleweight champion states that there is only one thing to keep him at 185 and that’s only for one fight: Michael Bisping.
“I’m not too excited about making that weight cut again. I just don’t feel nearly as strong, powerful, quick. It takes a lot out of me. Pretty much [Michael] Bisping is the only reason I would torture myself to get back there. That’s a loss that doesn’t sit well with me. I know the UFC is very interested in that fight and will pursue it on their end. If he doesn’t accept it, there’s no reason for me to stay at 185. Mr. [Alexander] Gustafsson has reached out, opened his mouth, and that’s a fight that interests me — very much so. I like that match-up. I like every match-up at 205. There’s a lot of interesting things there and I’m not coming to play around.”
— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) February 10, 2018
“I knew what I was getting into when I took this fight [with Yoel Romero], but I didn’t exactly have the best weight cut. Credit to Yoel. I thought I could take advantage of certain things, and kicking his leg felt like f-cking cement. I ended up having to work around that, and he capitalized. I did a lot at that weight class. People probably don’t give me the credit I deserve for holding the Strikeforce title, but the people who do know, know. Compared to some other guys at 205, of course, I’ll be a little small. But I’ve never tried to just physically go for it, bulk up, lift weights. Every time I’m in training mode, I’ve had to monitor what I’m eating. I’ll break 210 and be around 215 pounds. I know what it takes to compete with the best guys at 205. I’ve trained with them.” — Luke Rockhold speaking to ESPN.
The fight makes complete sense. They’ve both finished each other in their respective fights and a trilogy would decide who’s the best once and for all. Michael Bisping is still without an opponent after an exhaustive list of possible options for his retirement fight have all been turned down. It would also give time for Daniel Cormier to finish his trip up to heavyweight before he retires early next year, clearing the way for Rockhold’s space in the light heavyweight division. …Then we can finally get excited for a possible Gustafsson fight.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/23/2018.