Luke Rockhold has heard the rumors, grown impatient and down right near contemplated taking a fight in the interim, when on Friday August 14, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion finally got what he wanted — a title showdown with UFC 185-pound champion Chris Weidman

The tussle will take place at the blockbuster UFC 194 pay-per-view on December 12 in Las Vegas, Nevada, which also features an exciting interim featherweight title unification bout between unstoppable Brazilian Jose Aldo and boisterous interim champion Conor McGregor.

Rockhold is one of UFC’s top middleweight fighters, boasting an Octagon record of 4-1, with four-straight victories. Like his champion counterpart Weidman, the 30-year-old is one of the largest fighters in the middleweight class, standing tall at 6’3,” while weighing roughly 200 pounds when he’s not fighting. 

Rockhold, who spent time training at the EXOS performance center in Arizona earlier this summer, spoke to Muscle & Fitness regarding his preparation for the biggest fight of his life.

Luke Rockhold Q&A

M&F: How much time have you spent in the gym, despite not knowing when you’re fighting?

Rockhold: I’m making a lot of money and trying to capitalize. I’m also training. When I’m on the road in Florida, I’m trying to get what I can from different trainers and better myself in any way. I’m home right now. I’ve been training all week. 

I’m hungry right now, but at the same time, I know that I can’t constantly train every day. I need to enjoy myself. I’m an outdoorsman. I like to go out; I like to have a couple of cocktails. Everything in moderation, but I’m definitely in-shape and pushing the envelope farther than I ever have, especially with the time off. 

I went out to the EXOS Combine in Phoenix to learn more about nutrition and different machines to try and stay in-shape and better my body. 

M&F: Can you talk about the work you did there?

LR: EXOS is an initiative that the UFC has taken to try and better us as athletes and keep us healthy. Just building a better foundation; agility, footwork. Just a better machine in general; working on every little thing. Core and balance. 

Then covering the whole nutritional side of recovery and enhancing the body; giving it the best fuel to perform. There’s so many levels they cover there. It’s definitely a one-stop shop and it was an eye-opening experience. It’s something I’m always trying to do; do my homework outside of the sport. A lot of fighters and athletes don’t pay a lot of attention to themselves. On the nutritional side of things, trying to understand something themselves instead of being a “yes” man and being told what to do. It’s always a focus of mine to have my own understanding of what’s best for me. It was a really good experience to go out there and learn more about the scientific side of training. 

M&F: Can you give us a brief rundown of the Luke Rockhold diet? 

LR: I have a varied diet. I definitely incorporate different food that are the best for me in recovery and performance. I think it’s good not to stick to one diet in particular. I have chicken twice a week in my dinners. I’ll always incorporate eggs in my mornings and afternoons. I’m going to have steak twice a week, chicken twice a week and fish twice a week. I really like liver. It’s one of the most nutritional and essential animal fats out there. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals for recovery. It varies depending on how close I am to a fight. 

I’m high on animal fats and I believe in that as building block for building muscle and for recovery. Complex carbs – sweet potatoes are a staple of my diet. I’ll incorporate other carbs. I’ll have wild rice or quinoa. I’ll always have just a basic food table out. Recovery-wise; a lot of fruits and beforehand I’m doing oatmeal. A lot of leafy greens; spinach and kale. Beets are obviously another great staple of my diet. They help oxygenate the blood and with recovery. 

M&F: Would you recommend jiu-jitsu and kickboxing classes for those looking for a varied workout?

LR: Yeah, depending on what you like and what your need is. I think kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and wrestling – wrestling and jiu-jitsu has that man-to-man physical contact that’s just constantly strength on strength and pushing forward. There’s no workout like that. It definitely incorporates every muscle group in your body and it’s an overall workout like none other. I do highly recommend that. For the less physical type, the jiu-jitsu is awesome. It’s slow, constant physical engagement with your muscles. It’s a great workout and it has taken off so far. It’s come so far from where it started.

Even 10-15 years ago, when I started, there was a very small population of people doing it. Now it’s so widespread, it’s pretty crazy. I really like incorporating training circuits within – one of our famous training circuits is, we do an Aerodyne bike workout at night. So we’ll jump on a bike and do a one-minute cycle on the bike at a high RPM and then we’ll jump off and diversify the training within some kind of weight lifting or bag work, medicine ball work in between and then go back and forth. We’ll go one minute on a drill; one minute on the bike and so forth. You can incorporate that in so many different ways and cater that to what you need. You have your constant cardio and a whole body workout and then can diversify with some other kind of drill on the outside, which is a sprint, a box jump, medicine ball throws and weight lifting. 

We’ll do that for 30-minutes straight; back-and-forth. It’s one of my favorite workouts. It gets my body and shape on another level. 

M&F: Are you big on strength training?

LR: I’m not a huge power lifter. I’m a big man for my division already and incorporating too much extra muscle is a risk for me. I think for me and my body type; the finesse and speed is more key for me. Obviously muscle endurance so for me, I’ll do more reps – higher reps and speed work. Those are key for me. I think more lean, fast-twitch muscles work for me. That’s my style of fitness and weight lifting. 

M&F: What are three exercises you feel translate towards better performance in the Octagon?

LR: I think footwork for me is one of the biggest keys. That’s what has taken me so far is obviously having that fancy footwork. You have to hit and not be hit and be in position to do so. Running, cardio and footwork are the biggest keys for me. Being light on my feet serves me well. I incorporate a lot of speed drills in with my hands and my feet. 

M&F: How do you make sure not to overtrain?

LR: Everyone has their opinion on how long a fight camp should be. I usually start 10-12 weeks out from a fight. Depending on the fight, I’ll start getting my body in shape, start pushing it and get to a level where I can – about eight weeks, I’m pushing my body as hard as I can.

 I’m listening to my body at the same time; holding back and resting when I need to. At eight weeks out, I want to be close to 80 percent of where I want to be and then I’ll build up from there. I’ve cut my workouts back about – the hard ones – about eight-10 days out, depending on injuries. Things in camp dictate the way you finish your camp. 

As long as I have a healthy body, I usually cut my hard workouts probably about eight-10 days out. Then, I’ll start incorporating more core and cardio. Those two are key for keeping my weight down. I just work drills from there on out with my coaches.