Former champ Rockhold decides not to retire

MMA

Luke Rockhold has decided against calling it a career.

The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion told ESPN on Sunday he has decided to resume his MMA fighting career. This comes after he said in October that it was “very” possible he’d never fight again.

“Because I felt like it,” Rockhold replied when asked why he decided to come back.

The 35-year-old Rockhold, who last fought in July 2019 at light heavyweight, said his plan is to return to action as a middleweight, and he hopes to fight again by the end of 2020. He added that he still has about a month left of rehab on his surgically repaired shoulder. Rockhold had surgery earlier this year to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff.

Last July, Rockhold suffered a second-round knockout by Jan Blachowicz in what was his light heavyweight debut. Rockhold suffered a broken jaw in that fight, he said, which required surgery and the insertion of a titanium plate. His jaw was initially wired shut for five days following surgery, Rockhold told ESPN.

Rockhold (16-5) was once considered one of the best fighters in the world. He debuted in 2007 and gained fame in 2011, when he defeated Ronaldo Souza to win the Strikeforce middleweight title. He won the UFC 185-pound belt when he defeated Chris Weidman at UFC 194, but subsequently lost it in his next fight, in June 2016, when he was knocked out in the first round by Michael Bisping in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.

Rockhold returned to form in September 2017 by stopping David Branch in the second round, but that would prove to be his most recent victory to date. His next two fights were knockout losses to Romero and Blachowicz.

In addition to the losses, Rockhold has battled numerous injuries over the years, most notably a recurring shin injury that required a skin graft, which contributed to his 511-day layoff between his past two fights.

On Sunday, Rockhold hinted at being interested in a rematch with Weidman, who beat Omari Akhmedov this past weekend, though no talks regarding that fight or any other are underway at the moment. He said he’ll split his training camps between South Florida, where he had recently been training, and San Jose, California, which is where his career began.

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