"I'm definitely looking forward to having my coming out party against Costa and showing people that I'm still here." - Luke Rockhold
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When Strikeforce shuttered its doors for the final time in early 2013, middleweight champion Luke Rockhold was among the most highly prized fighters coming to the UFC, jumping right in the deep end of the 185-pound division.
Things didn’t go as planned for Rockhold, however, after he suffered a spinning head kick knockout courtesy of Vitor Belfort in his debut and then spent the rest of the year on the shelf dealing with injuries. Yeah it’s safe to say, Rockhold is just fine if you never mention the last year to him again.
"I’d rather not think about 2013. It’s something I definitely want to leave in the past," Rockhold told The Great MMA Debate podcast. "I learned from it and I’m moving forward. It’s a new year, a new stage and I’m excited about 2014."
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While he’s been out several of his Strikeforce counterparts have found a great deal of success in the UFC. Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza is currently ranked No. 4 in the world while Tim Kennedy sits at No. 9. Rockhold is actually ranked No. 6, but you might not know it given the length of time he’s been out and the last memory most have of him inside the Octagon.
Rockhold isn’t lost on the fact that it doesn’t take much for a legion of fans to forget about you so he’s determined to make his impact felt on Jan 15 while kicking off 2014 in grand fashion.
"People forget pretty quickly," Rockhold said. "I’m definitely looking forward to having my coming out party against Costa and showing people that I’m still here."
For the last few months after recovering from an injury, Rockhold has defined hard work inside the gym to make sure he knocks off the rust from his absence from the cage while sharpening all of the weapons in his toolbox.
Rockhold is ready to unleash a harsh reminder to the entire world why he was the best middleweight in Strikeforce, why he has wins over fighters like Jacare and Kennedy, and why the entire division at 185 pounds should be wary of the year ahead. It’s just unfortunate for Costas Philippou that he has to be the one standing in Rockhold’s way.
"It is my time," Rockhold said. "I need to show up, I need to perform and I need to separate myself from the masses. I need to prove that I’m different and I’m better than these guys and I’m better than Costa Philippou. I know I am and I’m just going to go out there and prove it."
Check out the rest of Rockhold’s talk with us as well as Felice Herrig and Rose Namajunas who both drop by to discuss signing with the UFC and the new season of The Ultimate Fighter kicking off in May. Plus we debate the latest news from the UFC including Dominick Cruz losing his bantamweight title and a grade for the first weekend of UFC Fight Pass.