The next challenger in the middleweight division, Alex Pereira, has already come under harsh criticism from former champion and veteran Luke Rockhold several times. What he complains about the most is the one-dimensionality, and he also repeated several times how the UFC skillfully led him to the title by giving him only "stand-up" fighters and avoiding wrestlers.
After the defeat against Paulo Costa, Luke emotionally said goodbye to the sport in which he competed professionally for 15 years. He thought he had nothing more to give to this sport, but yesterday he made an interesting statement.
As reported by MMA Fighting, Rockhold said that he is ready to return if Alex Pereira becomes the champion because it is an "easy hunt" for him. “That Brazilian dude winning the title. Alex Pereira,” Rockhold told Submission Radio when asked what could inspire him to return.
“He’s gonna have every wrestler in the f****** game just chomping at the bit to get that guy. Let’s go. Let’s get the free belt. “The only thing is you gotta fight Robert Whitaker or some s*** in between.
It’s like, f***, [that’s] gonna hurt. Cause win or lose with Robert Whitaker, that s*** hurts. That s***’s gonna hurt, we’re gonna fight”. Rockhold was defeated in three rounds last month at UFC 278 and appeared deflated from the start.
He also said himself that in the past year he went through a lot, mostly bad things that even physically distanced him from sports.
The three years away took their toll
“I’m telling you, just going into that fight week, I was so beat down and just exhausted and mentally broken from seven months of it,” Rockhold said.
“You know, it’s like, is my body still ready? And it’s hard to conceptualize walking into that cage when you’ve been hurt so far along the track, but I just refused to pull away. You know, you invest into this thing that you’ve committed to.
So it’s, whatever happens, happens, kind of thing. You just gotta go. And it’s not like where I wanted to be going in the fight. Coming back from that long time off and not really doing a lot through COVID. “I obviously feel like I could do a lot better.
I feel like I could beat Paul Costa’s ass any day of the week if I was back on my game, it’d be over. And I see the rest of the vision. I feel like I’m getting better, but I just don’t wanna get hurt anymore.
It sucks. And then you gotta watch out for your health in the long run. I’ve done a lot. Do I need to do more? I don’t know yet. Let me get in the gym and keep moving, keep thinking. But if I get inspired … if someone inspires me to get back and you know … you never know”.
The defeat by Costa was his third in a row, so he would have a hard time getting the opportunity for the belt even if he returned to the sport, and perhaps it is better to still tie him to another, a past generation where he was truly one of the best.