The last time Luke Rockhold stepped inside the Octagon was during his light heavyweight debut against fellow ex-champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239 in July 2019. The former middleweight title holder ended up losing badly via second-round knockout, putting him on a two-fight skid.
A few months later, Rockhold admitted to being “happy not fighting” at the time, prompting discussions about possible retirement. But less than a year later, he decided to commit to a return, simply stating he was “getting an itch” to fight again.
But apparently, there is more to the story. In a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Rockhold revealed some personal problems that urged him to fight on.
“I know it’s not a popular subject right now, but I did have an abortion, and I did have a big breakup,” he said. “There was a lot committed in trying to – you know, I’m 37 and wanting that, needing that and then it all falling apart, it hurt.
“It definitely was a big turning point in realizing where my life was and where I’m going. Having a kid on the way and prepping for that and carrying the weight of the kid and another, it weighs on you, to where you want to put yourself in that place later in life.
“Having to make that decision, a lot of things just weren’t right. There wasn’t a lot of truth on both sides, on either side, and it just f–ked me up.”
The 37-year-old says he’s been sober for a while now and wants nothing more than to get his career back on track.
“It made me f–ng transition and change my life for the better. Ever since then really, I’ve been sober. I think Super Bowl weekend was that, and the week after was sobriety,” Rockhold said.
“So, I want what I want, and I want it all. That was that. I want this f–ng thing, and every part of me wants this, and I’m not going to do anything that’s going to compromise that come that day.
“I’ll do more than Paulo Costa, and I’ll do more leading up to that point, and I’ll do more in the cage. And I’ll keep doing more after.”
Rockhold (16-5) was supposed to face former title contender Paulo Costa at UFC 277 on July 30th, but that fight’s been pushed back to UFC 278 on August 20th. And for him, it is a “blessing in disguise.”
“It gives me more time to prep. I took that hiatus, that leave of absence, and you burn out,” he said. “Everyone can burn out in this sport. In any sport, but especially in fighting. Coming into the gym every day and fighting people, sometimes you just hit a wall.
“Fifteen years in the sport, 14 years – I needed to take a break. Take two or three years away. I have that hunger. I have that will. I want to watch my sparring. I want to watch my opponents. My last few fights, I wasn’t even f–ng watching film. I wasn’t watching myself.
“I wasn’t eager to get home and turn on f–-ng Fight Pass and do my homework. I’m f–ng hungry, and I want it, and my body feels great.”
UFC 278 takes place in Salt Lake City, Utah. The event will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between champion Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards.
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