By Dane McGuire
Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold is officially a free agent. His exit from the promotion appears amicable after he spoke with UFC COO Hunter Campbell.
The release was confirmed by UFC officials January 23. Despite his decision, Rothschild did say a UFC return is still in the cards. Aside from other MMA promotions, he could also enter boxing.
“I need a new setting,” Rockhold said. “I need a new challenge. … You get burned out in the game when you’ve done so much, and you need new obstacles.”
“…That door is always open, but I want to go and f*** some people up,” Rockhold said, later adding. “If you want bulls***, we can go box, beat up these YouTubers, too.”
Rockhold last faced Paulo Costa at UFC and after struggling through the bout, announced his retirement.
“I f****** can’t do this s*** anymore. I gave it my all. … I’m f****** old.
After losing to Costa, that put Rockhold at 1-4 in five fights. His return to action ends a three-year layoff.
“I feel like I’m just getting better,” he said, “I feel like I’m finding my tempo, and it feels good. … I’ve got mountains to climb.”
Rochold further elaborated on his release, saying:
“I’ve done my thing in this sport, and I’ve always been amicable with Hunter Campbell at least,” Rockhold said. “Me and Dana (White) always haven’t seen eye-to-eye, and we’ve had our differences, but I’ve been through some injuries and some things, and I’ve done my thing. I asked for a release. I asked for my freedom to be able to go and do things elsewhere. And I was granted that.
“Me and Hunter – I’ve paid my dues, and he granted me my wish to be able to go have freedom, to be able to box, to go fight elsewhere. There’s a lot of different avenues. You’ve seen what Nate Diaz and Francis (Ngannou) are doing. There’s interesting, innovative companies coming up, and there’s a lot of things to correct in this world.”
Rockhold won the UFC middleweight title by TKO against Chris Weidman at UFC 194 in 2015. Yoel Romero then finished Rockhold by KO for an interim middleweight title at UFC 221. A move to light heavyweight followed at UFC 239, a KO loss to Jan Blachowicz.