Earlier this year, Luke Rockhold hinted that he might be getting the itch to fight again. Now, the former UFC middleweight champion’s return is all but official.
Rockhold confirmed to ESPN that he hopes to compete in the UFC before the end of 2020. The American Kickboxing Academy standout is currently recovering from shoulder surgery after undergoing a procedure to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff earlier this year.
The 35-year-old Californian last appeared at UFC 239 in July 2019, when he suffered a second-round knockout loss to Jan Blachowicz in his light heavyweight debut. Rockhold suffered a broken jaw in the bout. Last November, while not officially announcing his retirement, Rockhold said that he didn’t have the passion for fighting that he once did.
Rockhold told ESPN that he has decided to come back now simply, “Because I felt like it.”
Rockhold plans on returning to middleweight for his next UFC appearance. He said that he would be interested in a rematch with Chris Weidman, who earned a unanimous decision against Omari Akhmedov at UFC Fight Night 174 over the weekend. Rockhold will split his camp between AKA and Sanford MMA in South Florida.
Rockhold first rose to prominence when he captured the Strikeforce 185-pound championship with a decision over Ronaldo Souza in 2011. He defended the belt twice before the promotion closed its doors. Rockhold won five of his first six UFC appearances, culminating in a fourth-round stoppage of Weidman in a middleweight title bout at UFC 194. Rockhold would lose the belt in a shocking first-round KO loss in a rematch with Michael Bisping one bout later. Including the loss to Bisping, Rockhold has dropped three of his last four UFC appearances – all via KO or TKO.
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