For a time, it sounded as though former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold was headed north to the UFC light heavyweight division. Ultimately, however, Rockhold was booked for a rematch with Chris Weidman, the very man he took the middleweight title from in 2015.
The pair’s rematch will go down at UFC 230 this November 3 in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
For Luke Rockhold, the choice to accept this fight rather than move to light heavyweight comes down to a few key factors. First and foremost, it’s simply a big fight for him. Yet it’s also a good way to keep busy until his friend and training partner Daniel Cormier vacates the light heavyweight belt.
“Simple enough, it’s a big fight in a big arena,” Luke Rockhold said on Submission Radio (transcript via MMA Fighting). “It’s a place I’ve always wanted to go and a perfect match-up. It’s a very fitting situation. It’s something that gets me up, gets me excited, and makes me want to drop that weight. And there’s a hold up. There’s a hold up in the [light heavyweight] division. Obviously I’m very close to ‘DC’ [Daniel Cormier] and I know his standing, where he’s going and what’s going on right now. So there’s a lot of things that need to be cleared up before I make that move and run up on the light heavyweights.”
“It’s Weidman at Madison Square Garden,” Rockhold continued. “He’s an incredible fighter, man. He put away Kelvin Gastelum. People want to discredit Weidman because he’s had a couple of rough fights since we encountered but he showed up. You’re only as good as your last fight, they say, and he showed up and put Gastelum away like nobody else has. He’s very relevant in the division. He’s No. 3 in the world so going in an putting him away again speaks volumes.”
While Luke Rockhold still plans to move to 205 in the future, his immediate goal is to prove he’s the best middleweight alive with another stoppage of Chris Weidman.
“I’m coming to win the f**king fight,” Rockhold said. “I’m coming to put him away. I’m gonna leave no doubt. People who doubt me, I’m gonna go out there and show myself. Every fight is different. There’s complications in fights, I’m gonna go out there and prove myself as the top middleweight in the world.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/27/2018.