Rockhold Targets March Return
Luke Rockhold removed himself from the middleweight title shot sweepstakes when he withdrew from his Nov. 26 fight against Jacare Souza. Now, with Yoel Romero poised to get the next crack at champion Michael Bisping, Rockhold eyes a return in early 2017 to keep his name in the title contention conversation.
Rockhold was set to face Souza in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Melbourne, but a knee injury forced him out of the bout. The fight was to be the second that could potentially determine the next 185 lb. challenger, the first being Yoel Romero vs. Chris Weidman at UFC 205. With Rockhold-Jacare scrapped, Romero earned the #1 contender spot with a vicious third-round knockout of Weidman.
While a chance at the middleweight belt he lost to Bisping will have to wait, Rockhold hopes for a quick recovery. Speaking to Submission Radio, Rockhold discussed the lingering knee issue that pulled him from the bout and said he hopes to be back by March.
"A small bundle pulled off the ACL at the attachment point. I’m trying to go through the natural process of healing which they say there’s a high potential of it reconnecting itself… I’m trying to do everything I can to avoid surgery. That’s key for me because any time you go into ACL – orthoscopic or reconstruction it’s a good 12 months out, pretty much. I’ve been told potentially in a couple of months it could reattach itself and then I can start kicking again.
"Given the time table of what’s going on with my potential recovery and Bisping and Yoel Romero probably not fighting until February/March, I think that’s a good time frame. If I can get in that frame around March, that would be perfect for me."
Rockhold (15-3) was the middleweight champion heading into UFC 199 in June, where he faced late-notice replacement Michael Bisping. The San Jose native was a heavy favorite, as he had already defeated Bisping in dominant fashion in 2014. Bisping shocked the MMA world by knocking out Rockhold in the first round.
While Rockhold wants his revenge against Bisping, he doesn’t see the British champion being able to stave off Romero’s unorthodox and powerful attacks for a full fight.
"I think it’s a rare, rare opportunity for Bisping to pull it off. Not as rare as beating me, but I think Yoel pretty much goes in there and – it might take a little while – but he’ll get to Bisping."