Former Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold Has Been Warned About Dangerous Move Up to Light-Heavyweight…

A lot of noises have been coming from Luke Rockhold’s camp concerning his future. The former UFC middleweight champion has dropped two defeats in his last three fights. In 2016 he lost his title to Michael Bisping in a crushing first round knockout. Most recently he was beaten by Cuban stalwart Yoel Romero.

Rockhold has been linked to a trilogy fight with Michael Bisping. He has said it would be the only fight that would keep him at middleweight after he blew his latest chance to become a title contender. Rockhold and ‘The Count” have a fractious relationship, and a third fight would definitely generate interest.

However, more likely is that the Californian makes the move up to light-heavyweight. He’s been vocal about how brutal the cut to middleweight has been for him. Over the last couple of weeks, Rockhold has got into a back and forth with Aleksander Gustafsson, the Swedish superstar about a potential fight.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

Keeping Warm

Gustafsson’s last Octagon appearance was in May when he put in an excellent performance against Glover Teixeira in front of his home crowd In Stockholm, Sweden. The Swede is on a two fight win-streak since defeats to Daniel Cormier and Anthony Joshua. However, right now he is out on his own as the only realistic number one contender in the division.

A move up for Rockhold would see him come straight into contention. The new face of Ralph Lauren would be a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale division. Now that Rockhold’s teammate, the current light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, is facing heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, there are no obstacles for the American.

Gustafsson for his part seems enthusiastic about the idea. Rockhold offers him a fresh challenge, and the Swede says it will “keep him warm” while he waits for Daniel Cormier to come back down and defend his title.

Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam, USA TODAY Sports.

Latest Response

Gustafsson put out the latest in a series of antagonizing tweets when he wrote:

“@LukeRockhold. Heard u coming for me.. Can’t ask for more .chinny as middle weight. KO’d as a LHW. Fool yourself to believe its the weight cut. I’ll wait for u!!”

It’s a fair point. One of the most interesting aspects of a potential move-up for Rockhold is the danger that he will be even more vulnerable to being knocked out. A fight against Gustafsson is high risk, but he doesn’t really have many other options that would advance his career.

Bisping Works

Rockhold is still enthusiastic about another rematch with Bisping to avenge the loss of his title. The Count has since dropped the belt to Georges St. Pierre and is expected to retire after his next fight if he even has another. The UFC’s first British Champion is believed to have tentative interest, but it is all about being offered the right deal.

One thing is for certain, whatever Rockhold decides to do next could be a defining moment in his career. After losing his title and being knocked out again, he needs to do something dramatic to get his career back on track. Beating Aleksander Gustafsson would certainly do that.

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