The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold recently announced his plans to make the step up to the 205lb division and now could well have a worthy challenger for his first outing.
At UFC 194 back in 2015, it really did seem as though the pieces were finally falling into place for the night’s co-main event winner, Luke Rockhold.
In besting the champion Chris Weidman, he had successfully overthrown a man who many had tipped to rule over the 185lb division for quite some time.
Weidman had fought and defeated the great Anderson Silva on two separate occasions before facing Rockhold, and though even today he is still considered to be a top-five middleweight, the manner in which he was battered by his opponent was a testament to the immense skill-set possessed by Luke on top.
Since that career-high, Rockhold lost his title in stunning fashion to the massive underdog Michael Bisping, took an extended hiatus from competition, bounced back with a less-than-convincing win over David Branch and then most recently, succumbed to the unmatched power of the former interim-title challenger, Yoel Romero.
Middleweight has been something of a mess for quite a while now but with Romero now established as the division’s top contender, the man he dispatched so brutally at UFC 221 last weekend made a pretty interesting announcement in the fight’s aftermath.
Speaking to MMAJunkie, Rockhold teased the idea that he will eventually make the move up to the light-heavyweight division.
“I’m not hanging here at middleweight much longer. It’s too hard to make weight. It’s not fun. Plus, the division at light heavyweight without Jon Jones is not the same. The middleweight division is much tougher.
“So move up, cut less weight, and have easier fights? C’mon.”
With that revelation now out in the world, one of the finest 205lb fighters of his generation, Alexander Gustafsson has made a pretty direct offer to the wantaway former-champ. ‘The Mauler’ is currently without an opponent despite efforts on his part to secure a rematch with the champ Daniel Cormier – who, of course, faces Stipe Miocic at UFC 226.
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@lukerockhold , your teammate is holding MY Division hostage, and you think there are only easy fights at LHW. If u think Romero hits hard, then wait till you come to the big boys. I want @dc_mma , and knocking u out will keep me warm in the meantime. Beware of coming up in weight because I will be standing at the front door waiting.
Rockhold is actually a longtime training partner of Daniel Cormier’s at AKA, and though a fight with the incredibly talented Gustafsson would certainly be a massive step-up, it really could stand as one of the, if not the most interesting matchup available to the matchmakers at 205lbs right now.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena