Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold sees an opportunity ahead of him by moving to the light heavyweight division.
Coming off a third round knockout loss to Yoel Romero, Rockhold (16-4) is seeking out new competition at 205 pounds.
“I don’t think they’re as technical in many ways. I think Alexander (Gustafsson) is one that stands above and beyond most of those guys,” Rockhold said in an interview with Submission Radio. “But for the most part, a lot of those guys, it’s not a deep division by any means. Alexander was always one of the true tests at that division and I’ll give him that respect. I wasn’t really referring to him (as easy or vulnerable), but beyond that there’s a lot of guys that are open.”
After winning the title in 2015 with a fourth round TKO of Chris Weidman, Rockhold was stunned in his first defense vs. Michael Bisping. He rebounded with a submission win over David Branch before falling to Romero.
“At the moment it looks as though we’ll see how things change. Anything can happen really. But negotiations are commencing, and so we’ll see where they fall,” Rockhold said about a potential next fight. “But a little time would be nice, man. I got some injuries on my leg, I’m having some fun, weird stuff going on. So I have to have a little basic surgery on that, and then I gotta get bigger, of course. I gotta naturally put on some weight if I’m gonna come up to that division and do it right.”
A former Strikeforce champion, Rockhold won his first meeting with Bisping back in 2014. But he doesn’t believe “The Count” will be signing on the dotted line to complete the trilogy.
“Yeah, exactly. They pursued the fight. Bisping, like I said, he talked it up, talked big behind it. But when it came down to making a contract he just made it impossible to work with, and they’re just… yeah, they’re not gonna make it happen. I don’t know if he retires or what he does, but I think he wants no piece, no part (of me),” Rockhold said. “It is what it is. The truth, you know, I was harassing them about it, and obviously he was trying to get technical with it, but realistically they wanted that fight bad. He didn’t want it, and he didn’t want it at all.
“I’m over it. I’m ready to move on and to do something that makes sense to me right now, and there’s opportunity at light heavyweight. And the weight cut is just, it’s taking too much of a toll on me, man. I felt completely drained and I lose a lot of my strength. And the last time around it wasn’t… it just gets worse and worse. I felt depleted. And so I’m looking forward to building up, getting healthy and getting some meat on my bones and tossing some weight around at light heavyweight.”