Following Alexander Gustafssson’s somewhat surprising call out of Luke Rockhold, the latter has made it clear he’s down to fight “The Mauler”, but will it happen?
Before Rockhold took on Yoel Romero at UFC 221 last month, and was KO’d by the middleweight contender, he relayed that a move to light-heavyweight could come shortly. Not long after the bout, Gustafsson raised eyebrows around the game, by telling Rockhold he’d knock him out, while waiting for a fight with the latter’s friend, Daniel Cormier.
Well, recently Rockhold was a guest on “The MMA Hour”, and the former middleweight champ repeated that a move to 205 is very, very likely (quote via MMA Fighting):
“I don’t see me coming back, man,” Rockhold said, while referring to 185. “The weight cut is too much on me. As you get older, your bones get bigger. The last couple cuts have been pretty brutal on me. I had trouble regulating my body temperature and all that shit. It’s not fun. It’s not a fun cut anymore.”
So that’s that. And what about Gustafsson? And his recent call out of Rockhold?
“I like it,” Rockhold said. “I think it was petty coming after me so early (after the knockout loss). I don’t know if he was trying to get under DC’s skin, but I’ll be coming. I’ll be coming to 205. Im gonna handle my business and you better be sure I’m coming for that ass, too.”
There you have it. Could this fight happen though? It’s possible, although, there’s a couple of things to consider.
Since Cormier is the reigning, light-heavyweight champ, does the UFC want to take the risk of having Rockhold knockoff the current, #1 contender in Gustafsson? A guy, who we know, almost certainly wouldn’t fight his buddy? After Cormier faces Stipe Miocic at UFC 226, July 7th?
If you’re going to take that risk, and keep in mind that Gustafsson narrowly lost to Cormier in 2015, you probably want that man to be able to step into a title fight with “DC”.
The other factor to consider here is that Bisping – Rockhold III. Although Bisping isn’t campaigning super hard for the rubber match, he has said he’d be down, if the UFC comes with a solid offer. So, if that bout happens, then Gustafsson will likely be booked to fight someone else in the interim.
But, if Rockhold moves to 205, and scores a big win or two, the chances are good that he’ll cross paths with Gustafsson sooner or later. If Jon Jones is cleared to return to the cage sooner than most people expect, then the path to a Gustafsson – Rockhold bout could be cut that much shorter.