Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold is giving it another go in combat sports, and he’s no longer under contract.
“Your man’s a free agent,” he said on Monday’s The MMA Hour. “Free and clear, and I’m ready and re-inspired to go out there and do something new.”
Rockhold explained his free agency came about through a good working relationship with UFC COO Hunter Campbell. Rockhold stated that he requested his freedom to “do other things” and pointed out a history of fighting under poor conditions. He said that he still had “a few” fights on his UFC contract after he was released.
” I’ve done my duty and [Campbell] has granted my wishes,” he stated.
UFC confirmed Rockhold’s return to MMA Fighting Monday.
Rockhold said he’s training every day and can return immediately if he takes a boxing match. Although he said that his recent ankle surgery was not as planned, he felt much better and has since returned to training. He felt refreshed and ready to do something new after he moved back to California, from Florida where he had previously trained.
“I need a new setting,” Rockhold said. I need new challenges. When you have done enough, you get tired of the game. You need to face new challenges
Rockhold said his return could involve boxing, an MMA return at PFL, Bellator, or ONE Championship, or another combat sports endeavor. Although he didn’t rule out the possibility of a UFC return, he repeatedly stated that if he wanted to be excited by new challenges, s he would need them.
” That door is always open but I would like to go and f*** someone up,” Rockhold stated, adding later. We can box and beat these YouTubers if you need bulls .
Rockhold returned from a three-year layoff this past August to face Paulo Costa at UFC 278. The former champ struggled mightily as the fight went into deep waters, and at several points, he appeared seconds away from being finished. He made the final bell, however, and rubbed his blood on Costa in a last-second show of defiance.
After a long and exhausting day, Rockhold said to Joe Rogan that ****** couldn’t handle this kind of s*** any more. I gave it my all. … I’m f****** old.”
The UFC 278 fight was Rockhold’s fourth loss in five outings since he captured the UFC middleweight title with a TKO of Chris Weidman at UFC 194 in 2015. He was knocked out by Yoel Romero in a fight for the interim middleweight title at UFC 221 and then knocked out by Jan Blachowicz in a move to light heavyweight at UFC 239.
Rockhold stated that he wasn’t satisfied with the place he was in after a three-year absence. He felt more capable and wanted to give back. Now that he’s free to compete wherever he wants, he believes the best is ahead.
” “I feel that I’m getting better,” he stated, “I feel as if I’m discovering my tempo and it’s good. … I’ve got mountains to climb.”