Rockhold (16-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC), a former UFC and Strikeforce champion, was forced to withdraw from a scheduled middleweight bout with Sean Strickland at UFC 268 on Nov. 6 due to a back injury. He claims it was too severe to fight through, as he herniated a disc that prevents him from training effectively.
According to Rockhold, he will not require surgery. Six weeks of physical therapy should get him back to full strength, Rockhold said, and Cormier thinks he can do it.
Cormier, a retired two-division UFC champ and teammate of Rockhold at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., endured some back injuries of his own during his fighting career. He said compared to him, Rockhold has far more upside in terms of completely bouncing back.
“I think he’ll fight again,” Cormier said during this week’s episode of “DC & RC” on ESPN. “I know it’s a herniated disc, L4 and L5. As a person that’s dealt with back issues, I know how bad it can be. But I also know that Luke is young and in shape. He’s not over 40 like I was when it happened to me. I believe that he’ll be able to work himself back into fighting shape. I’m disappointed because I was excited to see him compete again and I thought this was a favorable matchup for Luke Rockhold. But I do believe we’ll see him fight again.”
Although Cormier has high hopes for his longtime friend to get healthy, he understands the back is nothing to play games with. Cormier stressed the importance of following a proper recovery process because a misstep could result in a potentially career-ending setback.
“You don’t want that tingling to start going down your leg,” Cormier said. “Because when that happens, you’re done. You’re crawling around your house.”