Impatient with Paulo Costa’s delays, Luke Rockhold eager to begin UFC title run: ‘I want to get to Izzy’

Luke Rockhold is past the point of patience.

A former UFC middleweight champion, Rockhold (16-5 MMA, 9-4 UFC) has not competed since a July 2019 loss to Jan Blachowicz. While injuries have delayed his return, Rockhold has been ready to go for weeks.

So why hasn’t he fought? Rockhold redirects such questions in the direction of former UFC middleweight title challenger Paulo Costa (28-9 MMA, 11-6 UFC). According to Rockhold, the matchup between the two of them is on the table, but Costa is stalling for unknown reasons.

“I’m annoyed,” Rockhold said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “The guy says he wants to make weight. He wants to make 185. He wants the middleweight fight. The UFC wants the middleweight fight. I’m f*cking all (in). My management wants it. I want it. I’m ready to go. He’s just making excuses and getting cold feet. I don’t know exactly what is going on, but I’m just ready to go. I’ve been training every day, all day. Nothing is stopping me right now. … Let’s go. Sign the f*cking fight. Why is Paulo Costa getting scared and not sending the f*cking contract? The contract is there. It’s ready for you.”

Some people may think Costa is a bad matchup for him, but Rockhold feeds off the doubt. He’s equally driven by his belief Costa is an abuser of performance-enhancing drugs, something Rockhold has been an outspoken critic of in the past.

“He’s making excuses left and right,” Rockhold said. “He’s missed weight twice for that fight and he’s making excuses on not contractually agreeing to this fight because of the weight issues they’re placing upon him. Within all these rules, it’s like, you don’t want to make weight. You just want to make excuses. You’re a f*cking b*tch when it comes down to it. And your steroids aren’t working anymore, and you got caught up. You’re looking for a way out. He’s always needed assistance in whatever ways. It’s obvious. So f*cking show up. Show up and show out. Let’s f*cking go.”

Shortly after the comments made by Rockhold, his potential rival responded with a series of tweets, in which he joked about the steroid accusations and called Rockhold “old” and “fragile.”

If Costa isn’t next, Rockhold mentioned Darren Till and Jack Hermansson as other matchups he’ll angle for. He’s even willing to travel to the United Kingdom to make these fights happen.

Rockhold, 38, has openly had dynamic feelings toward fighting in recent years. But his most recent refocus toward competition has gone fantastically, he revealed. Healthy and motivated, Rockhold has even impressed himself.

“Honestly, I didn’t know where my body was going to be,” Rockhold said. “I’ve taken the last six weeks. I haven’t drank a drop of alcohol. I’ve been training every day. I’ve been putting my body and my mind where it needs to be. I’ve been putting myself into the hardest situations with the best fighters, like camp, and making sure I still have it. I still got it. I feel f*cking great. I’m in that position now where I’m ready to fight. I’ve made the choice and I just need the opponent. I need the dance partner.”

It’s been a while since Rockhold has won a bout, though inactivity perhaps is the biggest contribution to his victory drought. Physically healed, Rockhold wants fans and viewers to know he’s serious about his fighting career again. The goal is the gold – and right now UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) is the man to beat for it.

“I know that at my best, when I’m there, no one can beat me. I plan on finding that space. I’ve devoted everything to this thing. I’ve taken this time away. I’ve kind of lost that hunger. It’s come back. I definitely have that. I want to make one run. This is it. I’m either going to go do it or I’m going to go out on my f*cking shield. This is my f*cking last run at this time and I’m not leaving anything on the table.

“… I’m coming back to show I’m a title contender. I can still compete with the best guys. I want to get to Izzy. That’s what I want. So what’s the f*cking point of coming in at 205 and calling it a 185-pound fight? There’s just no f*cking point.”

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Author: Nolan King
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