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Former UFC champion Luke Rockhold explains decision to remain at middleweight

Luke Rockhold gives his reason on putting his plans to move up to light heavyweight on hold.

In September 2017, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold first broached the idea of moving up to light heavyweight. These plans, however, are put on hold, as he is now booked for a rematch against Chris Weidman for UFC 230.

For Rockhold, being able to fight at one of the biggest arenas in sports, as well the matchup that was presented to him, played a factor in his decision.

“Chris Weidman at Madison Square Garden. Simple enough,” Rockhold told Submission Radio in a recent interview. “It’s a big fight, in a big arena, a place I’ve always wanted to go, and a perfect match-up. It’s a very fitting situation. It’s something that gets me up, it gets me excited, makes me wanna come back and drop that weight, I guess.

“And there’s a hold up in the (light heavyweight) division. Obviously I’m very close to DC and I know his standing and where he’s going and what’s going on right now, so there’s just a lot of things that need to be cleared up before I make that move and run the pond at light heavyweight.”

“It got me back down to 185 pounds. Not a lot of things would’ve brought me back here at the moment,” he added. “But I’m excited. Madison Square Garden is the biggest venue in the world. I got the MGM down. It’s probably the two biggest venues in the world, right? I won the world title against Weidman at the MGM. Unfortunately, I’m gonna have to put him away here at Madison Square Garden. It’s gonna be an epic fight.”

Rockhold defeated Weidman in 2015 via a bloody fourth-round TKO to become the UFC 185-pound champion. The Serra-Longo fighter would lose his next two fights, but was able to break his losing streak last July with a third-round submission win over Kelvin Gastelum.

For Rockhold, his previous win is not enough basis to take this rematch any lightly.

“He’s an incredible fighter, man. He put away Kelvin Gastelum,” Rockhold said of Weidman. “People want to discredit Weidman because he’s had a couple of rough fights since we encountered, but he showed up (in) his last fight. You’re only as good as your last fight, they say, and he showed up and put Kelvin Gastelum away like nobody else could.

“He’s very relevant in the division, he’s No. 3 in the world. And so going in and putting him away again obviously just speaks volumes.”

UFC 230 takes place on November 3rd. No headliner fight has been announced yet, but over the week, rumors floated around about a possible 165-pound title fight between Dustin Poirier and Nate Diaz, which the company immediately shut down.