Luke Rockhold is about done at middleweight.
Once a champion in the weight class, Rockhold told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he plans on bidding farewell to the 185-pound weight class indefinitely. Light heavyweight is the future division for the Santa Cruz, Calif., native.
“I don’t see me coming back, man,” Rockhold said of middleweight. “The weight cut is too much on me. As you get older, your bones get bigger. The last couple cuts have been pretty brutal on me. I had trouble regulating my body temperature and all that shit. It’s not fun. It’s not a fun cut anymore.
“I’m a different fighter at 205. That weight cut is taking a lot out of me.”
Rockhold, 33, said his weight cut prior to fighting Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 221 last month in Australia was one of the worst yet. To compound matters, the commission in Western Australia where the fight took place did not administer an earlier weigh-in, which the UFC has done since June 2016. Rockhold said that meant he had to be dehydrated for longer while waiting for the stage weigh-ins to go on the air — the way it used to be done before reform two years ago.
“We had to make weight and stress out through the staging process like the old days,” Rockhold said. “It’s not the best situation. We stayed depleted for a number of hours. … I was pretty upset by that whole process.”
Rockhold (16-4) ended up losing to Romero by third-round knockout. And if he had his way, that’ll be the last time he sees 185 pounds.
This isn’t the first time he has discussed going up to light heavyweight. Rockhold did add that a fight with Michael Bisping, the man who beat him for the middleweight title two years ago, could be on the table. Rockhold would like that bout to be at 205, but it’s unclear if Bisping will agreed to it.
Either way, Rockhold won’t have any shortage of opponents at light heavyweight. With longtime American Kickboxing Academy teammate Daniel Cormier, the UFC light heavyweight champ, moving up to heavyweight to fight titleholder Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 in July and retiring next year, Rockhold will have a bevy of fresh matchups.
One of those potential foes has already thrown his hat in the ring. Alexander Gustafsson, a former title challenger to both Cormier and Jon Jones, called him out last month. Gustafsson said a fight with Rockhold would “keep me warm” while he’s waiting for Cormier to return to 205.
“Beware of coming up in weight because I will be standing at the front door waiting,” Gustafsson said.
To that, Rockhold basically said bring it on.
“I like it,” Rockhold said. “I think it was petty coming after me so early (after the knockout loss). I don’t know if he was trying to get under DC’s skin, but I’ll be coming. I’ll be coming to 205. Im gonna handle my business and you better be sure I’m coming for that ass, too.”