Luke Rockhold competes in the UFC, where he is the former UFC Middleweight Champion. He won the title on December 12, 2015 by defeating prior champion, the undefeated Chris Weidman via 4th-round TKO. A two-time world champion, Rockhold also won the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship by defeating Ronaldo Souza on September 10, 2011 via unanimous decision. Rockhold defended the title twice and was the last man to hold the belt, before Strikeforce was officially absorbed by the UFC. Rockhold is also an avid surfer, skateboarder, and a professional model having modeled at the New York Fashion Week and as the new face of Ralph Lauren's "Polo Blue" fragrance. As of July 26, 2018, he is #2 in the official UFC middleweight rankings.
Luke Rockhold comes from an athletic family. Growing up in Santa Cruz, Luke and his brother, pro surfer Matt Rockhold, surfed their local breaks together. His father, Steve Rockhold, was a professional basketball player in Europe.
Luke started training in judo at 6-years-old but quit upon turning ten. When he entered the seventh grade, he joined his school's wrestling team and stuck with the sport all through high school while taking Jiu-Jitsu classes.
Rockhold tried wrestling for a local community college but felt the sport wasn't for him, instead he took Jiu-Jitsu on full-time. After winning a few Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, he decided to look into mixed martial arts.
In July, 2007, Rockhold made his professional debut against Mike Martinez for the Melee on the Mountain promotion. Rockhold dominated the fight and won with an armbar submission, midway in the first round. He had his second fight for the promotion in November, 2007. It was not as successful as the first, and Rockhold was defeated by Tony Rubalcava via technical knockout.
Strikeforce called and offered Rockhold a fight on their Strikeforce: Young Guns II card. Rockhold looked impressive in his debut, forcing his opponent to submit from punches. Strikeforce, impressed with his performance, decided to give him another fight. The second fight took place on the Strikeforce: Destruction card, where Rockhold won via submission. At Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz, Rockhold won his third consecutive fight.
Rockhold was given a step up in competition when he fought Cory Devela at Strikeforce Challengers: Villasenor vs. Cyborg. Even though he was the underdog, Rockhold won the fight in only 30 seconds with his third rear naked choke submission in a row.
At Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. Evangelista, Rockhold defeated The Ultimate Fighter 7 contestant, Jesse Taylor. The fight improved his record to 5–0 under the Strikeforce banner.
In February, 2010, Rockhold defeated another Ultimate Fighter 7 finalist, Paul Bradley, and won via TKO from knees to the body. The fight took place at Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs. Hashi in San Jose, California. With the win, Rockhold was announced for the EA Sports MMA video game.
After more than a year and a half hiatus from fighting due to injuries, Rockhold stepped into the cage to fight Strikeforce Middleweight champion Ronaldo Souza in September, 2011. He won the fight by unanimous decision to become the new Strikeforce Middleweight champion.
For his first title defense, Rockhold faced Keith Jardine for the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine in January, 2012. Rockhold won the fight via TKO due to punches in the first round.
In his second title defense, Rockhold faced Tim Kennedy in the main event of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy in July, 2012. Rockhold successfully defended his title for a second time, winning the fight via unanimous decision.
In January 2013, Strikeforce was closed by its parent company Zuffa. A list of fighters scheduled to be brought over to the Ultimate Fighting Championship was released in mid-January and Rockhold was one of the fighters listed.
Rockhold faced perennial multi-divisional contender Vitor Belfort in May, 2013 in the main event at UFC on FX 8. He lost the fight via knockout in the first round, after being caught with a spinning heel kick to the face.
Rockhold faced Constantinos Philippou in January, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 35. He won via TKO due to liver kicks in the first round, also earning a $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus.
Rockhold faced Tim Boetsch in April 26, 2014 at UFC 172. He won via submission in the first round.
Rockhold faced Michael Bisping on November 8, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 55. Rockhold won the fight in the second round after dropping Bisping with a head kick and then applying a guillotine choke submission. The win also earned Rockhold his first Performance of the Night bonus award.
Rockhold faced Lyoto Machida on April 18, 2015 at UFC on Fox 15. Rockhold defeated Machida by submission in the second round, winning his second consecutive Performance of the Night award.
Rockhold defeated Chris Weidman by TKO in the 4th round to claim the UFC Middleweight Championship on December 12, 2015 as co-headliner at UFC 194.
A rematch with Weidman was scheduled to take place on June 4, 2016 at UFC 199, however, Weidman pulled out of the fight on May 17 with an undisclosed injury and was replaced by Michael Bisping. The title match against Bisping ended in the first round when Rockhold was dropped with a left hook and finished with a flurry of punches against the cage. This result was considered by many MMA medias as one of the biggest upsets in the UFC title fight history, Bisping being a huge underdog because he took the fight in only 10 days and had been submitted by Rockhold only 18 months earlier.
Rockhold was expected to face Ronaldo Souza in a rematch on November 27, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 101. However the pairing was cancelled on November 1st after Rockhold was ruled out of the contest after sustaining an undisclosed injury. As a result, Souza was also removed from the card.
Rockhold faced former two-time WSOF champion David Branch on September 16, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 116 after being away from the sport for almost 15 months due to injuries. He won the fight by forcing Branch to tap out from his punches in the second round.
Rockhold is scheduled for his first title fight after losing the Middleweight Championship to Michael Bisping on February 10, 2018 at UFC 221, taking on Robert Whittaker, after George St-Pierre vacated UFC middleweight title after being diagnosed with colitis.
On January 13, 2018, it was reported that Whittaker pulled out from his bout against Rockhold at UFC 221 due to a serious condition of staph infection and was replaced by Yoel Romero for the new Interim UFC Middleweight Championship. At the weigh-ins, Romero weighed in at 187.7 pounds, 2.7 pounds over the middleweight championship limit limit of 185 pounds. As a result, Romero was ineligible for the championship title even if he won the fight, while Rockhold would have received the Interim Championship if he had won. Romero was also be fined 30% of his purse, which went to Rockhold. After a slow start, Romero knocked Rockhold out in the third round.
Rockhold was briefly linked to a light heavyweight bout with Alexander Gustafsson on August 4, 2018 at UFC 227. However, Rockhold re-injured his leg in training and the fight was scuttled.
A rematch with Chris Weidman is expected to take place on November 3, 2018 at UFC 230, however on October 19, 2018 it was reported Rockhold withdrew from the bout, citing injury, and he was replaced by Ronaldo Souza.
In December 2018, Rockhold announced he will be moving up to light heavyweight due to ever-increasingly harder weight cuts that have led to numerous injuries during training.