Luke Rockhold has a world of possibilities in front of him.
Aug. 2022 appeared to be the last dance for the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion, Rockhold, who put on a “Fight of the Night” performance against Paulo Costa at UFC 278. Unfortunately for the Santa Cruz, Calif. native, he came up short via a unanimous decision, extending his losing streak to three.
The loss came as a blessing in disguise, however, as Rockhold’s brief retirement led to him escaping the shackles of UFC and exploring free agency. Rockhold, 38, has since competed in a bare-knuckle boxing (BKB) match against fellow UFC alum, Mike Perry, who defeated him via a second round technical knockout (injury). Rockhold (16-6 in MMA) had a tooth knocked loose in the match, resulting in a mid-fight realization that he wasn’t willing to lose his teeth for BKB.
“Bare-knuckle, there’s something cool about it, of course, but it’s not really an artistic fight,” Rockhold told MMA Mania. “It’s an intense brawl and you’re taking away all the technique. I’m a technical fighter. So, you take away all the techniques of fighting, of skill, of everything and you’re landing those certain shots that can really do damage. It’s forward pressure, it’s intense bulls—t. It’s a car crash. It’s not exactly my style.
“I’d like to actually try a real boxing match,” he continued. “I’ll put all my money on me taking Mike out on a boxing match. I’ll put all my purse I beat that kid every day in a boxing match.”
Rockhold is unsure of what his next move will be within the combat sports world, but first, he has to heal up after tearing a ligament in his elbow training for Perry. The former champion noted how he made matters worse with an appearance on Man Eats Wild, which was filmed in Africa ahead of the fight, worsening the tear by tossing 30-40-pound spears. He’ll get stem cell treatment in Columbia later this month (Aug. 2023).
During the current time off, Rockhold has also taken center stage in an upcoming docuseries episode of Rise & Grind, premiering today (Tues., Aug. 8, 2023) on OFTV. The episode dives into the former titleholder’s lifestyle and shows how he’s more than just a fighter. Always intrigued by doing a bunch of different activities, Rockhold knows once he truly stops fighting that there won’t be any going back.
“I’m ready to win,” Rockhold said with a laugh. He doesn’t know where or when, but many fans anticipated that a potential delve into grappling competitions would have been perfect post-UFC. It’s still a possibility, of course, it just has to be for the right price.
“I haven’t seen enough money in it, honestly,” Rockhold said. “To devote my time in this place, I don’t have that much time left in my career and I want to f—king dedicate the time I have and the focus I have to doing something that’s more on par with my needs and wants. I want to perform and I want to get f—king paid. Bare-knuckle paid me, very, very nicely.
“I didn’t even think I was gonna do it,” he added. “I was like, ‘What the f—k?’ I thought I was gonna box, I was gonna box these kids, the Paul brothers, whatever the f—k I had. I had a lot of options and we were negotiating a lot of things. I think Mike got scared, thinking I was gonna take that Jake Paul fight from him and he called me out and had bare-knuckle call and present this thing.”