Luke Skyler Rockhold (born October 17, 1984) is an American model, and mixed martial artist competing 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 it. He is currently ranked the #1 middleweight and #3 official pound-for-pound fighter by the UFC and other publications like Fight Matrix and Sherdog. Luke is also an ardent surfer and skateboarder.

Early life

Rockhold was born in the Bay Area city of Santa Cruz, California and hails from an athletic family. Growing up, Luke and his older brother, pro-surfer Matt Rockhold, surfed their local breaks together. His father, Steve Rockhold was a professional basketball player in Europe and his mother was an avid tennis player. Luke started training in judo when he was 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 Soquel High School while taking jiu-jitsu classes.

Rockhold tried wrestling for a local community college but he felt the sport wasn't for him and instead took jiu-jitsu on full-time. He experimented more with jiu-jitsu and began to find this gentle art complimented his long flexible body and style. After winning a few BJJ tournaments, he decided to wander into mixed martial arts. In 2006, a friend invited Rockhold to train at the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California. His raw talent and kicking displays immediately caught the eye of AKA head coach Javier Mendez, who touted Rockhold as a potential future champion.

Mixed martial arts career

Early career

In July 2007, Rockhold made his professional debut against Mike Martinez for the Melee on the Mountain promotion. Rockhold dominated the fight and won via armbar submission midway through the first round. He had his second fight for the promotion in November 2007. It was not as successful as the first as Rockhold was defeated by Tony Rubalcava via TKO.


Up and coming promotion, 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. Impressed with his performance, Strikeforce 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 going into the fight, he won that fight in just 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 (knees to the body). The fight took place at Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs. Hashi in San Jose, California. With the win, Rockhold hoped to fight against tougher and well-known fighters. In addition to the win, Rockhold was announced as a playable character for the EA Sports MMA video game. Rockhold was scheduled to fight Matt Lindland at Strikeforce: San Jose but pulled out a few weeks before the fight due to a shoulder injury. Rockhold was expected to face former title contender, Tim Kennedy, at Strikeforce 32 however, due to unknown reasons, Rockhold was removed from the bout.

Winning the middleweight title and subsequent title defenses

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 on September 10, 2011. He won the fight via unanimous decision to become the new Strikeforce Middleweight champion. For his first title defense, Rockhold faced Keith Jardine at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine on January 7, 2012. Rockhold won the fight via TKO in the first round.

In his second title defense, Rockhold faced Tim Kennedy in the main event of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy on July 14, 2012. During the weigh-ins for the bout on July 13, Rockhold came in a half-pound overweight. Rockhold cut the extra weight in the allotted two-hour limit. He successfully defended his title for a second time, winning the fight via unanimous decision.

For his third title defense, Rockhold was expected to face challenger Lorenz Larkin at Strikeforce: Cormier vs. Mir on November 3, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. However, Rockhold was forced to withdraw from the show due to injury and the event was later cancelled. The fight was rumored to be rescheduled on January 12, 2013. however, Rockhold never agreed upon the bout citing a lingering shoulder injury.

Ultimate Fighting Championship

In January 2013, the Strikeforce organization 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 on May 18, 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 was expected to face Tim Boetsch on October 19, 2013 at UFC 166. However, Rockhold was forced out of the bout citing a knee injury and was replaced by C.B. Dollaway. Rockhold faced Costas Philippou on January 15, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 35. He won via TKO in the first round after dropping Philippou with a kick to the body. The performance also earned Rockhold a $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus. Rockhold eventually faced Tim Boetsch on April 26, 2014 at UFC 172. He won the fight via submission in the first round.

Rockhold faced Michael Bisping on November 8, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 55. He won the fight in the second round after dropping Bisping with a head kick and then applying a guillotine choke submission. The win earned Rockhold his first Performance of the Night bonus award.

On April 18, 2015, Rockhold faced former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida at UFC on Fox 15. Rockhold defeated Machida in a one-sided fight via submission in the second round. Rockhold also earned his second consecutive Performance of the Night bonus award.

Winning the UFC middleweight title

"It’s a bad fight for Chris, stylistically. Luke is really hard to take down, and when you get him down his Jiu Jitsu is amazing. It’s one of the best and underrated offensive Jiu Jitsu games in MMA. [Luke] has the range, he has the height, he has the size, he has the power.."

Tim Kennedy discussing Weidman-Rockhold fight

Rockhold next faced Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship on December 12, 2015 at UFC 194. In the third round, after a competitive first two rounds, Rockhold capitalised on a missed Weidman wheel kick by taking him down into the back mount and passed to full mount where he delivered heavy ground and pound to the champion. Weidman was able to make it to the end of the round but had sustained heavy cuts and damage from Rockhold's ground and pound. In the fourth round, Rockhold kept pressing with punches and secured a successful take-down and after passing into full mount, delivered more ground and pound to win the fight via TKO in the fourth round and became the 7th middleweight champion in UFC history, thereby ending Weidman's undefeated reign in the UFC. Both participants were awarded Fight of the Night honors. Being a Santa Cruz native and becoming the UFC Middleweight Champion, his hometown Santa Cruz, California, proclaimed December 18, as "Luke Rockhold Day" crediting his victory.

Losing the UFC middleweight title

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. His 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 was submitted by Rockhold 18 months earlier.

Rockhold is expected to face Ronaldo Souza in a rematch on November 27, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 101.

Personal life


Rockhold is rumored to be dating 'Cool For The Summer' singer Demi Lovato who recently broke up with Wilmer Valderrama. The singer first crossed paths with the former UFC middleweight champion while training at Unbreakable gym in Los Angeles and their relationship blossomed from there. Luke posted on his Instagram a smiley face tattoo on his pinky, after which Demi also got the same smiley face tattoo on her pinky and posted it on her Instagram few days later.

Championships and accomplishments

Fighting style

His signature striking techniques are a counter right hook, liver kick and question mark kick (which he usually throws off the front leg). He usually uses his kicks to set up a submission.

Rockhold draws his fight inspiration from very different hobbies mainly surfing and skateboarding. He claims to have a surf-skate stance rather than a boxing stance.

He holds a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and trains at American Kickboxing Academy with UFC champions Daniel Cormier (LHW champion), Cain Velasquez (former HW champion), Jon Fitch, Josh Thomson, Ruslan Magomedov and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Mixed martial arts record

Ronaldo SouzaUFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Jacaré 2November 27, 2016Melbourne, Australia
Loss15–3Michael BispingKO (punches)UFC 199June 4, 201613:36Inglewood, California, United StatesLost the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Win15–2Chris WeidmanTKO (punches)UFC 194December 12, 201543:12Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesWon the UFC Middleweight Championship. Fight of the Night.
Win14–2Lyoto MachidaSubmission (rear-naked choke)UFC on Fox: Machida vs. RockholdApril 18, 201522:31Newark, New Jersey, United StatesPerformance of the Night.
Win13–2Michael BispingSubmission (guillotine choke)UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. BispingNovember 8, 201420:57Sydney, AustraliaPerformance of the Night.
Win12–2Tim BoetschSubmission (inverted triangle kimura)UFC 172April 26, 201412:08Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Win11–2Costas PhilippouTKO (body kick)UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. PhilippouJanuary 15, 201412:31Duluth, Georgia, United StatesKnockout of the Night.
Loss10–2Vitor BelfortKO (spinning heel kick and punches)UFC on FX: Belfort vs. RockholdMay 18, 201312:32Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil
Win10–1Tim KennedyDecision (unanimous)Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. KennedyJuly 14, 201255:00Portland, Oregon, United StatesDefended the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship.
Win9–1Keith JardineTKO (punches)Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. JardineJanuary 7, 201214:26Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesDefended the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship.
Win8–1Ronaldo SouzaDecision (unanimous)Strikeforce: Barnett vs. KharitonovSeptember 10, 201155:00Cincinnati, Ohio, United StatesWon the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship.
Win7–1Paul BradleyTKO (knees to the body)Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs. HashiFebruary 26, 201012:24San Jose, California, United States
Win6–1Jesse TaylorSubmission (rear-naked choke)Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. EvangelistaNovember 6, 200913:42Fresno, California, United States
Win5–1Cory DevelaSubmission (rear-naked choke)Strikeforce Challengers: Villasenor vs. CyborgJune 19, 200910:30Kent, Washington, United States
Win4–1Buck MeredithSubmission (rear-naked choke)Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. DiazApril 11, 200914:07San Jose, California, United States
Win3–1Nik TheotikosSubmission (rear-naked choke)Strikeforce: DestructionNovember 21, 200813:06San Jose, California, United States
Win2–1Josh NealSubmission (punches)Strikeforce: Young Guns IIFebruary 1, 200811:49San Jose, California, United States
Loss1–1Tony RubalcavaTKO (punches)MotM: Melee on the MountainNovember 6, 200712:46Friant, California, United States
Win1–0Mike MartinezSubmission (armbar)MotM: Melee on the MountainJuly 24, 200712:44Friant, California, United States