After suffering a unanimous decision loss at the hands of Paulo Costa in a wildly-entertaining fight at UFC 278 last month (see it again here), Luke Rockhold announced that he would be retiring from mixed martial arts (MMA) after competing professionally for 15 years.
Now, a few weeks removed from the defeat, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion talked further about his decision to step away from the fight game, leaving a glimmer of hope for a potential return once he gets his mind and body right.
“Sometimes I struggle back-and-forth thinking how I want to approach this, but too many people hide behind their words, not how they really feel. But, I want to retire. I want to work on life like I did a f—king fraction of on my break, but I want to get my f—king body together, get my health together. Health is wealth, ultimately, and my body is f—king deteriorating and a fight doesn’t help that,” Rockhold said on Instagram (transcribed by MMA Junkie).
“So, I want to get my body back, but I’ll never close the door (on MMA). Once I get my health fully back, and I get my body where I want, and I start performing and not hurting myself, (then) maybe, maybe, maybe, I’ll make another run at this thing – one, two, three years down the line. I honestly feel like I’m only getting better. The way I’m treating my body and changing the game.”
His fight against Costa was three years removed from his loss to Jan Blachowicz, so it’s not out of the ordinary for Rockhold to take an extended break and then return. That being said, the former Strikeforce champion is 37 years of age and admits his body is not what it used to be, thanks in large part to several wars he’s been a part of throughout his storied combat career.
Of course, if he does decide to return it will have to be inside the Octagon if he has fights remaining on his contract. Unless, of course, Dana White grants him his full release. Then again, Rockhold’s relationship with White hasn’t been the best, so there is no telling if the promotion would be willing to part ways that easy.
Since 2016 Rockhold has gone just 1-3 and has lost his last three fights to the aforementioned Jan Blachowicz, Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero. If the promotion does grant him his release, Rockhold can always reconnect with his old boss, Scott Coker, at Bellator MMA, or make his way over to ONE or Professional Fighters League (PFL).
If Rockhold does decide to mount an MMA comeback in a year or so, where would you like to see him compete?