No one has ever doubted the talent of Luke Rockhold. He went on an epic five-fight finish streak - knocking off UFC veterans and legends – to secure the UFC middleweight title before being stunned by Michael Bisping at UFC 199.
The loss stunned most, as Rockhold entered the Bisping bout as high as a -900 favorite at some sports books. Now, three years later, a different belt is on Rockhold’s mind: Jon Jones’ light heavyweight strap.
“I feel like I’m the best in the world,” Rockhold told UFC.com. “When I’m in the gym, there’s no one better than me. The only way someone can beat me is if I compromise myself, if I deplete myself and become less of a man than I could be. I’m as good as I can be right now and that’s trouble for everyone ahead of me.”
In regards to compromising and depleting himself, Rockhold is, of course, referring to his transition to 205 pounds, where he’ll make his debut against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239 on Saturday.
A new weight and a new goal have reinvigorated Rockhold.
“I enjoy my time outside the cage but you have to wait for the right time,” Rockhold said. “This decision kind of reinvigorated the whole process. Fight week is a lot easier and a lot more comfortable.”
The matchup against the sixth-ranked Blachowicz is seen as an eliminator fight of sorts, as most of the fighters ranked above Blachowicz have already gotten their crack at Jones. Rockhold’s plans could obviously go astray if Thiago Santos upsets Jones on Saturday. But if his debut goes as planned, he could be next in line.
Moving around weight classes has been a common theme these past few years in the UFC, especially when titles are on the line. But we’ve seen it mostly in the lower weight classes. Rockhold is moving up 20 pounds.
“I expect more,” Rockhold said of his future in the UFC. “I’m still the top-ranked middleweight in the world and I don’t think there’s much of a difference (between 185 and 205 pounds). These guys aren’t as technical or athletic.”
Rockhold believes his speed and athleticism will be an advantage at light heavyweight. He was always a bigger middleweight, too, so the transition has been smooth. But this time around there’s no compromising or depleting himself. Fans can expect to see the best Luke Rockhold on Saturday.
“You always have to check yourself throughout the process,” Rockhold said. “Sometimes you get ahead of yourself, but you have to learn to relax and listen to your body. I’ve listened and now everyone is going to learn.”
Rockhold and Blachowicz will meet on the UFC 239 main card, which goes down Saturday night at 10pm/7pm ETPT live on ESPN+. Click here to join now!