Former UFC champion Luke Rockhold appeared on Submission Radio recently to discuss the upcoming UFC 259 main event and more.

Saturday’s card features middleweight champion Israel Adesanya moving up to light heavyweight to challenge Jan Blachowicz.

Rockhold, recovering from an injury, has competed at both weight classes. 

On his UFC return being delayed by his shoulder injury

“I’ve been working, man. I’ve been trying to get my body back. My shoulder’s been an issue, an ongoing problem. That’s been kind of the whole hold-back and why I’m still doing my thing, still on the outskirts. They’re not easy, shoulder rehabs are not fun. If anybody has had a shoulder surgery, it’s like I just can’t get to one hundred percent confidence in it. I’m almost there, but it’s just been a long arduous process, and I’m coming along, just ready to do my thing. And the world is coming back around, so it’s making things a little more available and easier. So, little by little.”

“The last few years I’ve had a problem with my labrum and my rotator cuff. It’s just been deteriorating, and I relied on my right hook, and my right shoulder has taken some damage. So, it’s not as sharp, and it was hard to keep my hand up and work. And just when I’m punching, I’m looping. I don’t have the stability and the strength to stay up, stay strong here. So, I decided to get the surgery in the middle of COVID, and it’s been a problem coming back from the surgery. And I’ve had questions of whether or not I’ll have to do another surgery, and it’s just not one hundred percent there. Like, the elasticity in the ligament, I can’t really rely on it. I couldn’t rely on it. I’m starting to be able to now, finally, after lots of different treatments and PRP’s and everything I’ve been doing. So, it’s coming along. Finally coming along.”

“If I’m gonna come back, I’m not gonna come back compromised. I’ve done too much to go in there and fight compromised. If I’m healthy, If I know I’m healthy and I’m clear-headed when I’m going out there, I can beat anybody. So, that’s what I’m waiting for, and that’s what I’m getting to right now.”

On the UFC reaching out to him and looking at early/late summer for his return

“They’ve been reaching out, talking, just keeping tabs on my situation and letting me know that they’re interested. As am I. When the time’s right, when something really kind of appeals to me, it’s sexy. I want to come back for something that gets me excited, and I want to come back when I’m ready, when my body’s ready. And I think early, late summer would be ideal. It’s just matching up with the right person and the right thing that’s going to put me to where I want. I’m not looking to just play around. I’m wanna go straight to the gut of this division. And most likely 185. Not ruling out 205. But I really just gotta push my body to get in shape and see where it wants to go. Right now, I’m light. I’m like 205-208 [pounds] right now, and I think that legitimately it’s going to be looking like I’m going back to middleweight. But we will see. If something pops up, you never know. If a fight falls apart, like many injuries do and COVID and everything that happens, I could be ready sooner than later.”

How he sees Israel Adesanya vs. Jan Blachowicz playing out

“It all depends on what happens in the fight, you know what I mean? If Israel wins, I don’t know where he goes. I’d imagine he’d come back, I’m thinking to middleweight. If he loses, he’s definitely coming back. How he losses or how he wins, I think those are all deciding factors.”

“I like Israel in the fight. You never know, Jan has a very herky jerky style. I rushed the fight. I thought he was more visible. He wasn’t as clean and as confident as I thought he would be. I just over put myself into a takedown situation, which I don’t normally do. I thought I could just finish the fight pretty easily, and I wasn’t used to his size and strength and overcommitted to a takedown and just juiced my arms up. And by the time I got out of the clinch I was just like, I was watered down, had all the blood in my arms and I couldn’t get off like I should. If I was more patient and just waited for my shots, my opportunities, I think it would be a much different fight. And I see Israel has just this confidence and I think he’s peaking right now. I think he’ll be more patient. I think he’ll see Jan, and I think he’ll find his mark more often than not.”

The most surprising thing about fighting Jan

“He’s really strong. He’s a really awkwardly built guy. He’s a big dude, thick dude, and he’s got power. And he’s got a somewhat effective style. It’s very strange, but if you really tune into it you can pick it up. So, I think Israel is in tune and he’ll be focused enough, and I would lean on him to get this thing. But Jan could throw him off with some stuff. He could go for some takedowns, or I don’t know how he works him and puts him up against the cage. There’s different things to kind of sway this fight in his favour.”

On Adesanya possibly fighting Jones at heavyweight next

“Why? I mean, unless he’s getting paid 10 million dollars to fight Jon Jones at heavyweight. I mean, fighting at heavyweight not for the belt, I don’t see how that really makes much sense for him. And I think fighting guys like Stipe and Francis is pretty ridiculous for Israel. So, I don’t see how that really makes sense. I mean, Jon doesn’t want to fight Israel for not the heavyweight belt, right? I think vice versa.”

“For him I think the title has to be a part of it. If you want to fight him, it’s like, there’s just too many questions that need to be asked, and he needs to prove himself at heavyweight. If you’re gonna go fight him there, it just doesn’t make sense unless it’s for the belt.”

“I’m not here to play around. The reason of me doing my shoulder surgery and getting healthy is to get to where I know I can be. I’m not here to just go fight a fight. I don’t need to. There’s other options for me, plenty of other things I can do right now. My window is still here, I still feel in the gym that I’m as athletic as I’ve ever been. I’m still competing and beating the best, can beat the best. So, I just gotta get healthy. If I’m healthy, I’m clear-headed, I’m present, there’s no doubt I can beat anybody.”

If Luke is excited by the new crop of middleweight or a rematch with Chris Weidman

“I’d say the new guys. I think Chris Weidman, he’s not what he used to be. And if he were to somehow change it around in this fight with Uriah Hall and do something, maybe? But right now, these other two fights are definitely more in my viewpoint. This Marvin Vettori kid is doing pretty well for himself, and Darren Till’s done a couple of things here. So, I like those fights.”

“The winner of any of those fights, or the fallout of one of those fights is also appealing.”

On Paulo Costa being annoying for saying getting drunk off wine effected his performance

“The Paulo Costa guy’s just annoying. Stupid. Talking about getting drunk off wine is just the dumbest thing I’ve ever fucking heard.”

“Just shut up. Shut up and stop making excuses like that. That’s just a farfetched… pretty dumb. Pretty fucken dumb.”

On his friend’s car getting stolen and Luke helping his friend steal it back from a rough neighborhood in LA

“We went to Tulum and my buddy’s car got stolen out front.”

“Tracked it to downtown Los Angles in like the hood, and it’s very ghetto down there. The cops have been taken out of power and control, and they don’t do anything these days. And we were able to track it on the new app. It was like a brand new truck, and we tracked it to downtown and called the cops over and over again and they just kept delaying and putting us off. And you just hear stories about these cars that get stolen, they just keep stealing cars. My buddy’s a sergeant at SFPD, and he’s arrested the same guy 18 times for stealing cars. And they just keep letting him go, letting him out, stealing more cars. And they don’t do anything. You get your car stolen, and you start repeating these stories in your head of people getting their car stolen, and they just, a lot of bad things start happening with these cars. Over time they don’t really do anything to fix the process. It’s a shame what the system is built into. Like, the cops delayed, delayed, they didn’t own up to meeting us at the time they were going to, and we were on the phone with them for a couple of hours. We were working on it. And they missed the point, and we decided to steal back the car.”

On how Luke helped steal back his friend’s car

“I walked the neighborhood and surveyed it, the whole situation, and checked the car to make sure there was no one sleeping in the back of the car. It was already bashed in from the bumper. I was making sure there was enough room to get out, get away without someone, you know… it’s a ghetto down there. It’s ghetto as hell. We were not in a good space.”

“It was late at night, very dark, very dead, and I was dressed appropriately… for a highway robbery.”

“We did what we had to do, and we were properly prepared. I stood, you know, pulled up behind the car, stood guard, got ‘em in the car and we took off and robbed their car back.”

“It was like in a little driveway out front. It was right off the street. Some dumb carjackers. We had a spare key in it, so we were just able to pull the damn thing.”

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