Luke Rockhold hasn’t fought in nearly a year, but next time he does, he insists it will be at light heavyweight.
Rockhold is a former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion and has long been entrenched at the upper end of the 185-pound division, but he insists that his body doesn’t handle the drop down to middleweight well, so he has decided to make a permanent move to 205 pounds. It is non-negotiable.
“I’m a better fighter where I fight naturally and bigger and I’m long overdue moving up and I’m done with middleweight. It’s time to move up,” Rockhold said during a recent interview on Submission Radio.
“I’ve been killing myself for many years now trying to make that weight. It makes me less of a fighter. So, I’m ready to move on and I’m ready to light these guys up.”
As criticism of extreme weight cutting in MMA and its negative effect on an athlete’s health has reached a fever pitch of late, more and more athletes are foregoing extreme measures to fight at a lower weight class. Rockhold is the latest and believes it will help stave off the numerous injuries that he has dealt with over the years.
“This last camp, it really made me realize my body just rejects 185, and every time I get down, I fall apart. So, I’m a better fighter when I fight naturally and just let my body (stay at a natural weight). I was restricting my body. Everything I would eat would just, I’d blow up, so I’d have to just nibble at every damn little thing. It’s not living,” Rockhold said.
“So, I’m happier here and it feels right and I feel better than I’ve ever felt. So, I’m very confident moving into light heavyweight. And so, move on, move up.”
Rockhold needs several more weeks to allow his most recent knee injury heal, so it will still be a few months before we see him make his UFC light heavyweight debut, but it’s coming.
“March timeframe sounds pretty good. I like the sound of that. I’m trying to do everything I can to get back in there, and so I want to rush my way in, but I want to do it right. And I don’t want to have to fall out of this thing. So, I’m just waiting on the body to go, but I think March is a very realistic.”
Rockhold hopes to be ready for UFC 235 on March 2, which is also being targeted for his teammate, UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, to possibly fight WWE Champion Brock Lesnar.