Luke Rockhold Granted UFC Release, Ends Short-Lived Retirement

Luke Rockhold has walked back the retirement announcement he made following a loss at UFC 278 this past August.

During an appearance on "The MMA Hour,” the former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion announced that he has entered free agency and is ready to resume his combat sports career. Rockhold revealed that he had multiple fights remaining on his UFC contract, but an amicable relationship with chief business officer Hunter Campbell resulted in him being released from that deal.

“Me and Dana [White)]always haven’t seen eye-to-eye, and we’ve had our differences, but I’ve been through some injuries and some things, and I’ve done my thing,” Rockhold said. “I asked for a release. I asked for my freedom to be able to go and do things elsewhere. And I was granted that.

“Me and Hunter – I’ve paid my dues, and he granted me my wish to be able to go have freedom, to be able to box, to go fight elsewhere. There’s a lot of different avenues. You’ve seen what Nate Diaz and Francis [Ngannou] are doing. There’s interesting, innovative companies coming up, and there’s a lot of things to correct in this world.”

Though nothing is set in stone, Rockhold expressed interest in MMA promotions Bellator, PFL, and One Championship. He also mentioned boxing as a possibility.

“I need a new setting,” Rockhold said. “I need a new challenge. ... You get burned out in the game when you’ve done so much, and you need new obstacles.”

Rockhold returned from a three-year hiatus at UFC 278, where he lost a unanimous decision to Paulo Costa in a sometimes bizarre bout at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Aug. 20.

“I’ve been through so much the last few years,” Rockhold said a his post-fight interview. “I f—king … thank you, fighting. Thank you, UFC. Thank you, Joe [Rogan]. I f—-king can’t do this s—t any more. I gave it my all. I just didn’t … I’m f—ing old.”

The 38-year-old Californian has lost four of his last five bouts, with three of those defeats coming via knockout or technical knockout. At his peak, Rockhold was one of the top middleweights in the sport, earning victories over the likes of Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Michael Bisping, Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo Souza. The longtime American Kickboxing Academy standout believes the fresh start will be rejuvenating for him.

“I feel like I’m just getting better,” he said, “I feel like I’m finding my tempo, and it feels good.”
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