Luke Rockhold’s most recent Octagon foray didn’t go so well.
The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion moved up to 205 pounds last July, where he was subsequently knocked out by Jan Blachowicz in the second round of their International Fight Week encounter. That UFC 239 defeat, which resulted in a broken jaw, came on the heels of a brutal KO defeat against Yoel Romero in February 2018.
“I think Luke Rockhold should talk about hanging it up,” UFC president Dana White said at the UFC 239 post-fight press conference. “He broke his jaw tonight. So that’s the second broken jaw. He’s been knocked out viciously a few times here. Shin is all banged up. He had to have a skin [graft] and all kinds of stuff. He’s had a good career. He’s been a great fighter. I’d like to see him hang it up.”
While Rockhold never officially announced his retirement, later in 2019 he admitted he was more focused on other endeavors.
“Fighting takes a lot. I’ve done it, I’ve been to the top of the game. I just don’t have the same passion, the hunger for it at this point,” Rockhold said in November. “I’m excited to go in other realms of life. I know I have a lot of fans out there. I’m sorry I’m not fighting but you never know. Maybe someday I will but I don’t foresee it at this point.”
When it comes to these matters, nothing is ever absolute in MMA, and it appears that Rockhold is now considering a return to active competition.
“That’s why I just kept my mouth shut,” Rockhold told MMA UK as to why he never announced his retirement (transcription via MMAFighting.com). “People just do it to seek attention. I’m not trying to like make some big statement, make attention about it when I’m not sure about it. Here we are now. I’m getting healthier and I might be getting an itch. We’ll see.”
If he does fight again, Rockhold will most likely compete at middleweight, where he sees a number of potential matchups for himself down the road. Regardless, the time away from the sport has allowed Rockhold to recharge.
“A lot of interesting choices,” Rockhold teased. “If Anderson [Silva] is still interested and seemingly he is, maybe, you never know. [Chris] Weidman’s got a fight coming up. If something, he comes out of that well, you never know. There’s options.
“I’ve just got to get healthy. It’s getting healthy and getting everything right and just taking some time off. I’ve been pushing it so hard for 15 years in this sport. It’s nice to have a break, mentally it’s freeing. Get focused on some other things I can do and there’s a lot to maintain and keep up with.”
Rockhold said he recently underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff and is currently focused on his recovery. He also revealed that he has multiple fights remaining on his UFC contract. There remains plenty of uncertainty regarding how the coronavirus pandemic will affect MMA promotions in the long run, and Rockhold is just as interested as anyone else to see how it all plays out.
“We’ll see how the UFC and everyone comes out of this coronavirus epidemic because it’s going to bury a lot of companies,” Rockhold said. “I’m curious to see how these fights come to be.”
Rockhold has lost three of his last four contests within the Las Vegas-based promotion – all by knockout. Prior to that, the California native had established himself as one of the top mixed martial artists in the world, winning 14 of 15 bouts in Strikeforce and the UFC from 2008 to 2015, a run that culminated in him winning middleweight gold with a stoppage of Weidman at UFC 194.
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