UFC books Luke Rockhold – Sean Strickland

Luke Rockhold

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a big middleweight contest for November. Aaron Bronsteter of TSN was the first to report that the promotion was closing in on a middleweight contest between former UFC champion Luke Rockhold (16-5) and Sean Strickland (24-3).

The fight will take place at UFC 268 which is scheduled for November 6th. The location is tentatively booked for Madison Square Garden, but given our current environment, that location is not set in stone.

Strickland is coming off of a big win against Uriah Hall at UFC Vegas 33 over the weekend. Earlier today, we published a piece about what could be next for Strickland. One of the options out there was a fight with sixth ranked Jack Hermansson.

However, the UFC had different plans. Luke Rockhold has been itching to make his return, but the promotion was having a tough time getting him a fight. He wanted someone in the top ten, but nobody was available for him.

UFC books Rockhold’s Return

After Strickland won this past weekend, the UFC asked him if he’d be interested in fighting Luke Rockhold in November. Strickland told the promotion that he’d be ready and the UFC went back to Rockhold with an offer.

It didn’t take long for the former middleweight champion to accept and now his return is officially on the books. Rockhold will be fighting at middleweight for the first time since 2018 when he lost to Yoel Romero in an interim title fight.

After that loss, Rockhold moved up to light heavyweight where he was knocked out by the current champion Jan Blachowicz. After that fight at UFC 239, Rockhold said that he was walking away from the sport.

However, after having some time away to heal up, Rockhold got the itch to compete again. Now, the former UFC champion is set to make his return and he’s coming for the middleweight title.

Overall, Rockhold is 6-3 in his last nine UFC fights. However, he’s just 1-3 after becoming middleweight champion and all three of those losses were by knockout. This is a huge fight for both men and it will tell us a lot about where each man is.

UFC attempted to make Luke Rockhold – Khamzat Chimaev; Chimaev declined the fight

Luke Rockhold

Today we learned that the UFC was trying to book a major main event for August. Per Ariel Helwani, the promotion was trying to book a middleweight main event between former champion Luke Rockhold (16-5) and Khamzat Chimaev (9-0).

The main event would have taken place at a UFC Fight Night on August 28th. Rockhold confirmed the news with Helwani and also said that the promotion offered the two a three-round fight at UFC 265.

According to the former UFC middleweight champion, Khamzat Chimaev declined both fights while Rockhold accepted both. Rockhold has been looking to book his return and he saw a fight with Chimaev as a way to get his name back out there in a big way.

Khamzat Chimaev is also looking to book his return after missing the last year due to complications from COVID-19. The UFC has been meeting with Chimaev about his return and they are working on fights for him now.

The fight with Rockhold fell through due to Chimaev’s desire to fight at 170 pounds. So far in three fights, two fights have been at middleweight and one has been at welterweight for Chimaev. However, Chimaev has made it known to UFC officials that he plans on staying at 170.

What does the UFC do?

For now, the promotion will go right back to work on booking these two a fight. Rockhold has told the UFC that he wants a top name at 185 pounds. In recent interviews, Rockhold has said that he’s accepted multiple fights, but nothing has materialized.

There are some middleweight contests coming up and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Rockhold get booked soon. He’s hoping to fight by the end of the summer and I think the UFC will find him a good opponent for his return.

Khamzat Chimaev took off in 2020 and was a potential win over Leon Edwards in December away from earning himself a quick UFC title shot. However, COVID cancelled his fight with Edwards and we haven’t seen Chimaev since. The word is that a fight for Chimaev is close to coming together and I would expect a top fifteen welterweight.

After a solid win at UFC Vegas 27, what’s next for Jack Hermansson?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 27, Jack Hermansson (22-6) took on Edmen Shahbazyan (11-2) to kick off the main card. Hermansson was coming off of a December loss to Marvin Vettori.

Had Hermansson won that fight, he might’ve been in the UFC title conversation. However, Vettori got the win and Vettori is fighting for the title at UFC 263. Hermansson took a step back to take on the top prospect Edmen Shahbazyan.

In this matchup, it was all going to come down to where the fight took place. On the feet, you would think that the young Shahbazyan would have the advantage. On the ground is where Hermansson expected to dominate.

In the first round at UFC Vegas 27, Shahbazyan dominated with his standup. It was a great opening round for the prospect, but you could tell that he would be in some trouble should Hermansson get this fight down.

Over the next two rounds, Hermansson was able to do just that. Hermansson was able to get Shahbazyan down and completely dominated the final two rounds at UFC Vegas 27. Ultimately, Hermansson walked away with a unanimous decision victory.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 27?

This was a really good win for Hermansson to get him back on track. Overall, Hermansson is 6-2 in his last eight UFC appearances. However, the two losses came when he was knocking on the door of a title shot.

Hermansson appears to be a very good middleweight, but when he gets to the top of the division, that’s when he falters. However, with his skill set and being ranked sixth, he needs a good opponent with a good name.

Most of the middleweight division is booked, but there is one opponent that comes to mind for me. I think a perfect matchup would be pairing Hermansson against former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (16-5).

Rockhold has been trying to get a fight booked at 185, but there hasn’t been any takers. The former champion wants a top guy to get right back in the mix and Hermansson fits the bill. It would be a big fight for both men and it honestly makes a lot of sense.

UFC struggling to find a fight for Luke Rockhold

Luke Rockhold

Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (16-5) is gearing up for his return to the octagon. Rockhold hasn’t competed since July of 2019 and he’s taken the last couple of years to let his body recover.

The former UFC champion is currently just 1-3 in his last four fights. All three of those losses came via knockout and prompted Rockhold to contemplate hanging it up. However, Rockhold is focused on a return and he’s determined to become champion again.

That said, the UFC is currently struggling to find him an opponent. Rockhold told Helen Yee this week that there are multiple top fifteen guys who have turned him down. This has caused a lot of frustration from the former champion.

In my opinion, the perfect fight for Rockhold’s return would’ve been a rematch with another former UFC champion in Chris Weidman. Of course, that fight is spoiled with Weidman’s leg snapping in his UFC 261 fight against Uriah Hall.

Who should the UFC pair Rockhold with?

Rockhold said that the UFC had tossed out names like Darren Till, Kevin Holland, and Uriah Hall as potential opponents. However, none of those fighters agreed to the matchup.

With that, Rockhold is still without a dance partner. Rockhold said that he would like to make his UFC return before his next birthday in October. So, who should the UFC target for his return fight?

In looking at the rankings, there are a few fights that would make sense for Rockhold. A fight that I really like is a potential matchup with Kelvin Gastelum (16-7, 1 NC). Gastelum is currently ranked in the top ten and he’s only been in there with the best over the last couple of years.

He’s coming off of a loss to the former UFC champion Robert Whittaker in April. That said, for Rockhold, a fight with Gastelum would be a good barometer in determining where he currently is at compared to top competition.

Another potential matchup for Rockhold could be the winner of the Jack Hermansson – Edmen Shahbazyan fight. Those two fight tomorrow night and if the winner comes out clean, perhaps the UFC looks at that matchup.

Luke Rockhold targeting the early summer for his UFC middleweight return

Luke Rockhold

Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (16-5) is getting ready to make his return to fighting. Rockhold hasn’t competed since mid-2019 when he was knocked out by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239.

The loss was the second straight knockout loss by Rockhold. Going back to his title loss at UFC 199 to Michael Bisping, the former champion is just 1-3 in his last four fights. Rockhold seemed to lose a little passion for the sport, however, he now appears more focused than ever.

In a recent interview with Submission Radio, Rockhold said that he was targeting an early summer return to the UFC. He said that he didn’t have one particular opponent in mind, but he wanted something ‘sexy’ that would motivate him.

Currently, there have been some behind the scenes conversations at the UFC about Rockhold’s first opponent back. There are a couple of middleweight matchups to watch in April that could produce Rockhold’s first opponent back. Rockhold made it clear that he wants to get right into the mix at 185.

Who could the UFC pair him against?

When asked about his motivation to return, Rockhold said that he wouldn’t be coming back if he didn’t have the motivation to once again be UFC champion. With that in mind, what options are there for Rockhold to get him right back in the mix?

The most obvious choice is the winner of the Chris Weidman – Uriah Hall fight which takes place at UFC 261. Rockhold has history with Weidman and either him or Hall would make for an excellent fight for Rockhold. Whoever wins will definitely be in the top ten at middleweight.

Another option for Rockhold would be the winner of the Darren Till – Marvin Vettori fight or the winner of the Kevin Holland – Derek Brunson fight. There are a lot of big matchups coming up in the UFC’s middleweight division and Rockhold has his eyes on all of them. The division has arguably never been better and Luke Rockhold’s return makes it even better.

What’s next for Anthony Smith following UFC Vegas 8?

Anthony Smith

At UFC Vegas 8, Anthony Smith (33-16) was dealt a crushing defeat at the hands of Aleksandar Rakic (13-2). Smith was very confident going into the fight, but it was apparent from the opening seconds that he was going to have a difficult time.

Rakic battered Smith’s lead leg in the opening minutes of the fight. The kicks did so much damage that Smith crumbled to the ground in the first round. The rest of the fight saw the former UFC title challenger on his back defending against Rakic’s attacks.

The loss was the second straight loss for Lionheart. Smith was clearly dejected in the post-fight show. Reflecting on the second consecutive loss, Smith wasn’t sure what was next for his career. He seemed to be contemplating a move back to middleweight.

“I’m just too big for 185 and you start getting to these bigger, stronger, taller, longer guys, they’re just so strong. He wasn’t passing my guard. He wasn’t putting me in danger on the ground. I just couldn’t get up…I think I’ve got some big decisions to make in my career,” Smith said in the post-fight show.

UFC’s light heavyweight or middleweight division?

Smith is in a really difficult spot as he laid out in his post-fight interview. In his current physical condition, he’s very big for middleweight. It would be a struggle to get down to the 185 pound limit given his current stature.

At the same time, he’s smaller than a lot of guys at light heavyweight. It was extremely evident last night that Rakic was much stronger physically. The former UFC title challenger really had no answer when Rakic was on top of him.

There are really only two options for Smith. He either needs to work hard to change up his lifestyle to make middleweight, or he needs to focus on adding weight and strength to stay at 205. Smith is still a top ten UFC light heavyweight, but I can’t see him beating the top contenders in the division at this point.

Lionheart used to compete at middleweight, but after a loss to Thiago Santos at 185, he decided to move up. He won three consecutive fights which earned him a title shot. He lost to Jon Jones at UFC 235, but then bounced back to defeat Alexander Gustafsson.

Now, Smith has lost two fights convincingly over the past three months which is forcing him to evaluate his career. Personally, I think it would be better for his career if he changed his lifestyle to make middleweight again.

That’s only if he can do it safely without hindering his performance. Smith’s skill set and stature just play better in the UFC‘s middleweight division. If he goes down to 185, maybe we could see that grudge match with Luke Rockhold. Smith is far from done in his career, but he is right, there are some big decisions ahead of him.

UFC: Luke Rockhold opts against retirement; returning to middleweight

Luke Rockhold

The UFC‘s middleweight division is going to be adding another contender to the stacked division. According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, former champion, Luke Rockhold (16-5), will be returning to action in the middleweight division.

It has been over a year since we have seen Rockhold inside the UFC. Rockhold had moved up to light heavyweight and was knocked out by Jan Blachowicz in the second round at UFC 239.

Former UFC champion is returning

After Rockhold suffered the knockout loss, he hinted that he would be walking away from the sport. Rockhold had suffered back to back brutal knockout losses and one resulted in a broken jaw.

Despite the losses, Rockhold was the champion just four fights ago. Rockhold defeated Chris Weidman at UFC 194 to become middleweight champion capping off a two year run where he went 5-0 on his way to the title.

Rockhold and Weidman were scheduled to rematch at UFC 199. However, when Weidman had to pull out, Michael Bisping stepped in. We all know what happened then. Bisping shocked the world by knocking out Rockhold.

Rockhold bounced back with a dominant win over David Branch before losing two straight via knockout. Now, the former champion is going to be returning to the middleweight division.

Another former champion just made a very similar move, and it’s a familiar foe. Chris Weidman just moved back to middleweight after also suffering a brutal knockout in the light heavyweight division.

Today, we released on article about what was next for Weidman. I think Rockhold’s middleweight return just changed that whole situation. To me, it was difficult placing Weidman’s next opponent, but a fight with Rockhold makes perfect sense.

These two men do not like each other and their rematch is years in the making. There aren’t a ton of fights that make sense for either man, so why not pair them up for a contest before the end of the year? That would definitely be a fun fight for both men.