Luke Rockhold’s days as a middleweight are numbered.
Even before he suffered a brutal knockout loss to Yoel Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) this past weekend at UFC 221, Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) had designs on moving up.
“One-hundred percent,” Rockhold told MMAjunkie in an interview prior to his pay-per-view main-event loss at Perth Arena in Perth, Australia. “I’m not hanging here at middleweight much longer. It’s too hard to make weight.”
Rockhold hit the 185-pound mark without issue for this past Saturday’s headliner. He attributed a good weight cut to the use of a nutritionist. But he said changes in his body have made the process much harder in recent years.
“It’s not fun,” he said. “Plus, the division at light heavyweight without Jon Jones is not the same. The middleweight division is much tougher. So move up, cut less weight, and have easier fights? C’mon.”
Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) isn’t the only thing that’s kept Rockhold from moving up. His longtime friend and teammate Daniel Cormier (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) holds the title at 205 pounds, and the two are not keen to fight. But with Cormier in pursuit of the UFC heavyweight title against champ Stipe Miocic (18-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC), the timing might be right.
Whether Rockhold’s loss hastens his decision remains to be seen. Asked whether he might move up within one year, he said, “easily.”
The setback to Romero was a tough start to 2018 for the former champ, who lost his title in June 2016 when Michael Bisping (30-9 MMA, 20-9 UFC) stepped up on short notice and delivered an upset knockout at UFC 199. Rockhold spent the remainder of the year at odds with the UFC over his contract before restructuring his deal. He returned to the octagon this past September and battered ex-WSOF champ David Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) to get back to the win column.
Rockhold got a chance to win back UFC gold when former welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) vacated the middleweight title, leaving interim champ Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) without an opponent. Upon promoting Whittaker to undisputed champ, the UFC booked Rockhold as the Aussie fighter’s first title challenger.
The opportunity was not meant to be. Whittaker was forced to withdraw from the fight, and the UFC installed Romero as a short-notice replacement. When Romero failed to make weight for the bout, eliminating him from title consideration, the pair shared a tense staredown at ceremonial weigh-ins.
Rockhold fared well early against the decorated Cuban wrestler but was caught in the third round by a pair of punches that crumpled him to the mat. Afterward, he gave Romero his due.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC's Luke Rockhold could move to light heavyweight inside a year