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Luke Rockhold expects to move up to light heavyweight when teammate Cormier retires

Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold is planning on an eventual move to light heavyweight.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Pittsburgh Rockhold vs Branch Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Rockhold has set the bar high, planning to move up and conquer the light heavyweight division and notch his second UFC title.

But, before he does any of that, friend and teammate Daniel Cormier — who was recently reinstated as the 205-pound champion after Jon Jones tested positive for steroids — must move back up to the heavyweight division or retire. Plus, the former middleweight champ also has some ‘business’ to settle with Michael Bisping, who relinquished him of the title in a stunning upset at UFC 199.

“I’ll fight light heavyweight,” Rockhold told MMA Junkie shortly after his win over David Branch at UFC Fight Night 116. “The weight cut was rough. I’m not going to lie, it always is… I’d love to go to light heavyweight. I’d do really well. In the gym, it’s more natural for me. I think I could do things. But ‘DC’ is obviously the man in the division right now. I’m not going up until he gets out. If he goes up or he retires, you can damn well guarantee I’m coming up. I have business to do here first.”

After spending over a year on the sidelines, Rockhold returned to the Octagon on Saturday against David Branch, forcing the former WSOF middleweight and light heavyweight champ to tap out to strikes in the 2nd round.

Despite the impressive stoppage, Rockhold was put on the back foot and caught with a barrage of strikes in the first round. The American Kickboxing Academy product wasn’t expecting Branch to be so aggressive and admitted that it took a while to find his bearings.

“I was OK with (my performance),” Rockhold said. “I didn’t expect him to come forward so hard. I wanted to find my timing, get my range. It was a bit of a weight cut and just trying to get my bearings there in the clinch and figure it out. When I’m best, I wait.”

Rockhold, 32, has been heavily critical of the upcoming middleweight championship tilt between Bisping and Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 on Nov. 4. The Californian isn’t sure St-Pierre will make it to the Octagon and is more than willing to step in as a replacement.

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