Former undisputed UFC champion, Luke Rockhold certainly isn’t planning a swansong anytime soon ahead of his incoming UFC 268 pairing with surging contender, Sean Strickland — claiming that he’ll set sights on reclaiming his former crown against reigning middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya in the future.
Making his Octagon return on November 5. at Madison Square Garden, Rockhold, a former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight titleholder is set to feature under the promotion’s banner for the first time since July 2019 where he suffered a second round knockout loss to current light heavyweight kingpin, Jan Blachowicz in his divisional debut. Rockhold also suffered a broken jaw in the main card clash.
Initially targeting a late-summer Octagon return, Rockhold, who recovered from surgery on a torn rotator cuff and labrum in his time away from the sport, settled on the streaking Strickland next, after claiming he needed a “sexy” stylistic opponent in order to entice him to make a return to the Octagon.
The Californian veteran is currently in the midst of a two-fight knockout losing streak — dropping a particularly infamous third round loss to upcoming Bellator MMA debutante, Yoel Romero for an interim middleweight title back at UFC 221.
Maintaining that he would offer something different to reigning, dominant middleweight champion, Adesanya if the two were paired in the future, Rockhold explained recently that with a victory over recent headliner, Strickland, he would set sights on the City Kickboxing standout.
“I’m not here for one fight, I’m here to go out for it,” Rockhold told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I’m here to go for Izzy (Israel Adesanya). I’m here to go for gold. That’s what I want and that’s what I’m here for. (Sean) Stickland is the f*cking path, let’s take this b*tch out.“
Whilst Rockhold has set his crosshairs on 185lbs best, Adesanya, he’ll likely have to wait in line behind expected next challenger, former champion, Robert Whittaker who is expected to meet with Adesanya in a rematch early next year.
As far as other willing contenders are concerned, the likes of Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson, as well as a combination of Marvin Vettori and Paulo Costa are likely to call for another shot at Adesanya’s title before the close of this year.
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