Luke Rockhold Granted UFC Release Request As He Eyes Comeback

Luke Rockhold has been granted his request to be released from his UFC contract as he looks to fight again after changing his mind on retirement.

“I’ve done my thing in this sport, and I’ve always been amicable with [UFC Chief Business Officer] Hunter Campbell at least,” Rockhold said on The MMA Hour. “Me and Dana (White) always haven’t seen eye-to-eye, and we’ve had our differences, but I’ve been through some injuries and some things, and I’ve done my thing. I asked for a release. I asked for my freedom to be able to go and do things elsewhere. And I was granted that.

“Me and Hunter – I’ve paid my dues, and he granted me my wish to be able to go have freedom, to be able to box, to go fight elsewhere. There’s a lot of different avenues. You’ve seen what Nate Diaz and Francis (Ngannou) are doing. There’s interesting, innovative companies coming up, and there’s a lot of things to correct in this world.”

The 38-year-old former UFC middleweight champion had returned to the Octagon last year after a three-year layoff, but it didn’t go well for him against Paulo Costa, appearing to suffer from major cardio issues as early as the opening round of the fight.

It got so bad that at times Rockhold would be left clutching his knees while gasping for breath or leaning against the cage on the verge of collapse from exhaustion.

To his credit, right up until the final bell he would still find the energy to burst into short spells of offense at times, but it simply wasn’t enough to have any hope of winning on the scorecards, and afterwards the still out-of-breath Rockhold joked that, “I’m f*cking old” and revealed that he was going to retire.

At the time that seemed like the right decision. After all, though Rockhold had been a very well conditioned athlete in the past, the reason he’d previously had a three year hiatus from the sport was due to the fact that he’d been KO’d in three of his previous four fights – a far cry from earlier in his career when he’d beaten the likes of Michael Bisping, Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman and Tim Kennedy.

Nevertheless, Rockhold still feels he has more to offer and something left to prove, suggesting the likes of Bellator, PFL, ONE FC or boxing as potential options for his latest comeback.

“I feel like I’m just getting better,” Rockhold claimed. “I feel like I’m finding my tempo, and it feels good. … I’ve got mountains to climb.”

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.