Former UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold had earmarked the latter months of this summer for his potential Octagon return, however, according to him at least, securing an opponent for his return has so far been a slogging task.
The Californian veteran has yet to feature since his light heavyweight bow back in July of 2019 at UFC 239, where he suffered a broken jaw on route to a second round knockout defeat to now division champion, Jan Blachowicz. The loss came as his second consecutively and the third in his last four professional outings.
Planning a return to the Octagon this summer, Rockhold had briefly been linked to a potential return against one-time welterweight title chaser, Darren Till, however, the Liverpool native is expected to headline an August 14th. UFC Fight Night event against Derek Brunson, as long as he obtains medical clearance after he suffered a broken collarbone in April.
“It’s really about fighting someone who’s going to fight,” Rockhold said during a recent appearance on the Real Quick With Mike Swick podcast. “I need to fight a top ten guy who’s ready to sack up and ready to fight. There’s already multiple people in the top ten making excuses why they don’t want to fight me. Who the f*ck are you to turn down a fight? Where’s your entitlement and what you think you have?“
“My last fight (at middleweight), it’s against Yoel Romero missing weight for a world title in Perth (Australia) two and a half years ago,” Rockhold continued. “I’ve left the rankings, but I haven’t really left the rankings. I’m still there just as much as I want to be and everyone knows who I am and what I can do, and I think everyone’s just making excuses (as) to why they don’t want to fight me right now. We’ve been hunting down the list and trying to find something credible, something fun, something exciting.“
Deciding against calling time on his professional career last summer, Rockhold underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff and maintains he can’t just return to fight a anyone throughout the 185lbs pile, with eyes on an opponent that makes “sense“.
“I’m not just going to fight anybody,” Rockhold explained. “It’s like I want something that gets me excited, gets the fans excited, and has a little momentum — something that makes somewhat of sense. So I want to come back in and I want to do this thing right.“
“I’m just here to prove to myself,” Rockhold said. “I just know that I have a lot left to give. I know that I haven’t performed to my potential. There’s certain weights and things that have been on my shoulders. So I know if I can go out there, and I can be present and give it my all, then I can go out there and do things that no one has ever seen from me yet, and I can go out there and beat everybody in my path.” (H/T MMA Junkie)
A former Strikeforce middleweight championship holder to boot, Rockhold holds a 16-6 professional record and has bested the likes of Ronaldo Souza, Keith Jardine, Tim Kennedy, Costas Philippou, Michael Bisping, Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, and David Branch.
In regards to the top ten contenders that Rockhold noted, champion, Adesanya is booked to rematch the #3 ranked, Marvin Vettori in June for the title. Paulo Costa who sits at #2 will draw the #4 rated Jared Cannonier, and Jack Hermansson already has a date with Edmen Shahbazyan rebooked for next weekend.
The only three contenders currently without opponents are former champion, Whittaker, who is likely to draw either Adesanya or Vettori, as well as Uriah Hall and the one-time interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum who both featured in April.