Former UFC champion Luke Rockhold would be confident about his chances against the reigning middleweight king Alex Pereira.
Last August, Luke Rockhold returned to the Octagon for the first time since 2019.
While the former Strikeforce and UFC titleholder was coming off back-to-back knockout losses and an extended layoff, he returned to the fray against a high-ranked opponent in Paulo Costa.
The pair went to war on the UFC 278 main card in a bout plagued by altitude-induced fatigue. But while they didn’t push an electric pace, the Californian and the Brazilian battled in an entertaining three-rounder that was worthy of the Salt Lake City-held event’s Fight of the Night award.
Rockhold ultimately succumbed to a loss on the scorecards, but his efforts and memorable blood smear in round three ensured his stock didn’t drop in defeat.
Post-fight, the former champ appeared to hang up his gloves. He admitted that he simply couldn’t do it anymore, citing age as a factor. But as is often the case in combat sports, that retirement was short-lived.
And not only is the 38-year-old set to compete again, but he also believes he can do so at the highest level.
Luke Rockhold: ‘I Can Still Compete At The Top’
Luke Rockhold was in attendance for UFC Fight Night 221 this past weekend, held at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas. While there, the Californian provided some insight into his future during an interview with MMA Junkie.
Although the middleweight legend currently has his sights set on ventures outside the cage, he didn’t rule out a return to mixed martial arts. According to Rockhold, he’s more than capable of throwing down with the best of them should he remain fully fit.
And that includes UFC Middleweight Champion Alex Pereira.
“Do I still think I could compete at the top? With a healthy body and a good training camp, yeah. I think I could beat Pereira, easy. I’m sure,” Rockhold said. “Do I wanna go through that process of getting up to him? Not quite yet. I took three years off and did nothing. Just getting back to the Paulo Costa fight was a lot for me. Now I’m continuing to train. That was like, my base point. Now I’m getting better.”
While Pereira looks to record his first title defense in a rematch against Israel Adesanya next month at UFC 287, Rockhold will be in action himself a few weeks later.
On April 29, the 38-year-old Californian will make his Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship debut. He’ll throw down with fellow former UFC fighter Mike Perry in the main event of BKFC 41.
Should he emerge victorious, perhaps some further lines will be written in his MMA story next.