Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

On Dec. 12, 2015, Luke Rockhold made a dream a reality by capturing the UFC middleweight title in a highly anticipated meeting with then-champion Chris Weidman. The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product had already been a titleholder in Strikeforce, but how much UFC gold meant to him was evident as the emotions ran wild as soon as Herb Dean called off the action in round four.

Alongside Rockhold throughout his journey was a fellow former Strikeforce champion in Daniel Cormier, who went on to do great things of his own in the UFC. As part of Rockhold’s corner that night, both men were able to celebrate in the immediate aftermath prior to Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor closing the show.

From a competitive standpoint, Rockhold has unfortunately taken a bit of a tumble since as he lost the belt in his first title defense to Michael Bisping and is 1-3 in his last four — all three losses coming by knockout.

Rockhold last fought at UFC 239 in July 2019 when making his light heavyweight debut against future champion Jan Blachowicz. At UFC 268 in Nov. 2021, the 37-year-old was to make his return back at his primary home of middleweight opposite the surging Sean Strickland. However, the injury bug struck once again and he was forced to withdraw.

Still planning to return, Rockhold is targeting June for a bout with former title challenger Paulo Costa. Thus leaving his ex-teammate in Cormier curious as to why.

“I don’t quite understand why he wants that fight so bad,” Cormier said on the DC & RC podcast. “I don’t know what Luke has seen in Paulo Costa over the course of his last few fights that makes him want that fight so much. Is it a winnable fight? Absolutely. But is there a lot of danger in that fight? Absolutely. Because we’ve seen Paulo Costa at his best and even when he saw him lose his last fight at 205 [pounds], he still looked pretty good, he was in the fight. So I don’t know what Luke saw in that fight that makes me want him. I support the guy, and I’ll support the guy until the wheels fall off.”

Costa started his career off red-hot with 13 straight wins before finally falling to Israel Adesanya in their heated title tilt at UFC 253 in Sept. 2020. The Brazilian brawler has only fought once since his second-round TKO loss to “The Last Stylebender” and that came in Oct. 2021 when he went through a dramatic weight missing saga the week of his bout with Marvin Vettori. Costa ultimately lost a unanimous decision despite Vettori playing by his rules and moving up for an impromptu light heavyweight clash.

While “DC” may be a little perplexed by the interest from his long-time friend, Rockhold did recently explain his reasoning when speaking to Submission Radio.

“It’s a guy that I don’t like, and I think disrespects the sport and motivates me to f*cking correct it,” Rockhold said. “It’s a guy that’s obviously top-ranked somehow, someway, when he can’t even make weight. So, typically if anything he should be ranked in the 205-pound division, right? I just don’t care for the guy. I tell you that, I don’t care for the guy. And I think it’s a fun fight. I think I can go show him the door…

“I don’t hate it, I don’t hate it. Obviously, it’s about selling tickets. And if you can go out there and put a statement and a staple on the fight on a big top-five fight, it speaks volumes. So, I like it. Going in there and making a statement can put me in a very nice little spot.”

TOP STORIES

Badass. Austin Vanderford wants to prove that Paige VanZant’s husband is a pretty cool guy at Bellator 275.

Play. BKFC President Dave Feldman admits interest in bringing over UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.

Attack. MMA fighters attempt to flee Russia hours after the attack on Ukraine.

Confidence. Leon Edwards’ manager believes the Kamaru Usman title fight rematch will be next.

$$$. KSW double champion Roberto Soldic not planning to leave his promotion if he likes their offer ahead of free agency.

VIDEO STEW

Between the Links.

The Bisping doc trailer.

Jorge Masvidal gets personal.

UFC Destined.

Fastest finishes by division in UFC history.

LISTEN UP

We Got Next. Gegard Mousasi and Terrance McKinney chat with MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck.

SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

“Bones” reacts.

lol I was hoping that video got lost in some files somewhere

— BONY (@JonnyBones) February 24, 2022

Oh thank goodness https://t.co/am1BvaaoYo

— BONY (@JonnyBones) February 24, 2022

I can deal with embarrassment, it’s the loneliness that gets me. Taking things one day at a time https://t.co/tO1g4LCC6p

— BONY (@JonnyBones) February 24, 2022

No way my guy, the story is far from over. I’m wise enough to know that we all go through seasons in life. I’ve had many great ones and several bad ones. I’m excited for the next one, about to be heavyweight champion of the world, capable of so many things, loved https://t.co/JKHzT69UJA

— BONY (@JonnyBones) February 24, 2022

Cryptic Diaz

— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) February 24, 2022

Fitz to Bisping.

Luke Rockhold training.

The Bobby Green collection.

The gogoplata.

Feb24.2007

15 years ago today,

Nick Diaz competed in his first & only fight with PRIDE FC & submitted Takanori Gomi with a gogoplata. pic.twitter.com/gTdr8lpvzZ

— MMA History Today (@MMAHistoryToday) February 24, 2022

Zombie Leben.

Zombie Mode. Leben Vs ICU part ll pic.twitter.com/eK2HPrfzol

— Chris Leben (@ChrisLebenMMA) February 25, 2022

Cejudo’s top 5.

THE KING’S TOP 5 UFC FIGHTERS OF ALL TIME

1. Triple C
2. The King of Cringe…

OK, OK, the real list ️…
1. @JonnyBones
2. @MightyMouse
3. @SpiderAnderson
4. Henry Cejudo
5. Georges St-Pierre

Tell me who you got! I might even reply

: https://t.co/01yVTWWfwM pic.twitter.com/q9cvVkVLRJ

— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) February 24, 2022

David Onama gives an update.

Quick update.#UFCVegas48 pic.twitter.com/RAKtxI2H4G

— David A. Onama (@DavidOnama145) February 24, 2022

Not so sweet dreams.

This was an attempt to get the pussies behind the screen (that still clown you) on your side!!! Take the heat don’t defect to real fighters by sucking off the clown ass bitch made keyboard warriors!!!#Iseerightthru https://t.co/N0NwVyNpFL

— Jamahal Hill (@JamahalH) February 24, 2022

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Ludovit Klein (17-4) vs. Devonte Smith (11-3); UFC 272, Mar. 5

Andre Fialho (14-4) vs. Miguel Baeza (10-2); UFC Vegas 51, Apr. 16

Charles Jourdain (12-4-1) vs. Lando Vannata (12-5-2); UFC Vegas 52, Apr. 23

Journey Newson (9-3) vs. Fernie Garcia (10-1); UFC 274, May 7

Brandon Royval (13-6) vs. Matt Schnell (15-6); UFC 274, May 7

Joseph Holmes (7-2) vs. Alen Amedovski (8-2); UFC Fight Night, May 21

Ode Osbourne (10-4) vs. Zarrukh Adashev (4-3); UFC Fight Night, June 4

Jeff Molina (10-2) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (14-6); UFC Fight Night, June 4

FINAL THOUGHTS

GSP is the G.O.A.T. Thanks for reading!

EXIT POLL

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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