After a long career in the middleweight division — including title wins in the UFC and Strikeforce — Luke Rockhold is headed up to the light heavyweight division.
In this new division, he’s hoping to advance through the ranks and ultimately collide with reigning UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones. Should Luke Rockhold earn this opportunity, he believes he’ll be the man to dethrone the seemingly unstoppable champion.
He explained why during a Monday appearance on The MMA Hour.
One of the main perks of the move, Rockhold says, is that he’ll no longer have to cut as much weight.
“I’m happy about not cutting weight. I’m happy about eating. I’m happy about how it feels. I’ve never felt like this before, and it feels good,” Rockhold said (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“It just got harder and harder [at 185 pounds], and depleting myself more and more as the years went on, and man, I just wasn’t recovering. I didn’t have the strength. You can kinda see it as I go along, it’s just a lack of not recovering and getting back to full strength. Even in training camp, I’d get down to a certain weight the last few years, and I would just, I’d feel weak and depleted. When I had a little extra girth, I was doing a lot better. I could handle just about anybody at any weight. And so now, actually lifting and eating right and not depriving myself, it’s a different world. I’m excited to get in there and show the world.”
Luke Rockhold also expects to be a little healthier in this new weight class.
“Obviously the extra muscle, it kinda keeps everything intact,” he said. “And a lot of those injuries happen at the end of training camp, when I’m depleting myself and getting down to weight and your body fat gets low. Your body becomes brittle. So I’m far less injury prone [at 205 pounds] and I’m looking forward to getting f*cking swinging, swinging with weight and some muscle.
“Obviously I’m not happy with how I’ve been about my career lately, and I’ve rethought things,” he added, “and I’m coming, and this is the recipe, this is the answer. Light heavyweight and not compromising myself. When I let it go, I let it go, and I’ve never met a man in the gym that can outdo me. So I’m just going to go out there and let this thing happen at light heavyweight and you guys are going to see, it’s going to be fun.”
Luke Rockhold will make his light heavyweight debut opposite Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239. He’s hoping this win will propel him in the direction of his desired fight with Jon Jones — a fight he’s confident he’ll win.
“I don’t believe there’s a man in the world who can compete with me on the ground,” Rockhold said. “I don’t believe Jon is that polished on the feet. I think he adjusts, I think he’s tactical. I think I have the skills to beat him there, I have the skills to beat him on the ground, and I think the wrestling is pretty much nullified, I don’t really think it plays much of a factor.
“It takes a good performance. It’s all about the performance of what we do and how you do it, so let’s just wait and see,” he concluded. “Check me out July 6th [against Blachowicz], I’m going to go put this man away and then we can talk, then we can talk about what’s up.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/16/2019.