The longtime American Kickboxing Academy member recently told MMAjunkie.com that he could move up to light heavyweight within a year due to the difficult cuts he endures making 185 pounds.
“I’m not here at middleweight too much longer. It’s too hard to make weight,” Rockhold said.
“It’s not fun. Plus the division at light heavyweight without Jon Jones is not the same. The middleweight division is much tougher. So move up, cut less weight and have easier fights? Come on.”
Some of Rockhold’s reasoning struck a nerve with Alexander Gustafsson, one of the 205-pound division’s top contenders. Since he won’t be able to get his desired rematch with reigning champion Daniel Cormier any time soon, the Swede would be more than willing to welcome Rockhold to a new weight class.
“[Luke Rockhold], your teammate is holding MY Division hostage, and you think there are only easy fights at LHW,” Gustafsson wrote on Instagram. “If [you] think Romero hits hard, then wait till you come to the big boys. I want [Daniel Cormier], and knocking [you] out will keep me warm in the meantime. Beware of coming up in weight because I will be standing at the front door waiting.”
The 31-year-old known as “The Mauler” has twice challenged for light heavyweight gold, falling to Jones in a memorable five-round battle at UFC 165 in September 2013 before losing to Cormier via split decision at UFC 192. Gustafsson has since rebounded to post back-to-back triumphs over Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira.
@lukerockhold , your teammate is holding MY Division hostage, and you think there are only easy fights at LHW. If u think Romero hits hard, then wait till you come to the big boys. I want @dc_mma , and knocking u out will keep me warm in the meantime. Beware of coming up in weight because I will be standing at the front door waiting.