Luke Rockhold’s career has fallen on hard times recently, having won once since winning the UFC middleweight title in 2015. A pair of knockout losses to Michael Bisping and Yoel Romero caused Rockhold to make the move up to light heavyweight with the idea being that the easier weight cut would improve his performance. That proved not to be the case though as he was also knocked out in his light heavyweight debut. That poor run, on top of dealing with a swath of injuries, led Rockhold to reveal was strongly considering retirement and had “no interest” in fighting right now.
But in MMA, retirements rarely last long and in some instances, they never get started at all. And in Rockhold’s case, it seems to belong in the latter category.
Over the weekend, Rockhold told ESPN that he plans to return to fighting. ESPN reported that the former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion is planing to return to the division he won his titles and is hoping to fight again before the end of the year, though he is still currently rehabbing following shoulder surgery. When asked why he was choosing not to retire, Rockhold responded in trademark Rockhold form.
“Because I felt like it.”
This shouldn’t be terribly surprising. Earlier this year, Rockhold admitted that he was “getting an itch” to fight again. Reading between the lines, it seems that Rockhold’s retirement was in part due to being “burnt out” with fighting and injuries. Now with some time off and an improving health status, it appears that Rockhold is ready to resume his career.
And that’s not the only part of Rockhold’s mentality that has changed. When Rockhold began teasing a return, he was asked about a potential rematch with the man he won the UFC title off of, Chris Weidman. At the time, Rockhold was pretty clearly against it, saying “I’m not huge on retracing my footsteps. Sometimes it’s exciting to do that. Rarely it is but I like to pave a new path everywhere I go, for the most part.” However, following Weidman’s win over Omari Akhmedov this past weekend, ESPN is reporting that Rockhold has also come around on that idea and is now interested in a rematch. And though he wasn’t asked about it, it’s hard to imagine Rockhold’s answer would have been any different than his other one: because he felt like it.