089: Beat Them to the Punch: Former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold on Tunnel Vision Focus, Building World Class Skills & Recovering from Defeat
What’s it like to step into the octagon in front of tens of thousands to defend your world title? How do you bounce back after devastating defeat? How do you focus and train every day for just 2 or 3 performances in a year? Here are three things we learned from former UFC Middleweight Champion and two-time world champion mixed martial artist, Luke Rockhold.
"We don’t have quarters, we don’t have another inning. We have to show up and everything has to be perfect. No mistakes." - Luke Rockhold
Take Time Away in Order To Grow Faster
As much as Luke dedicates himself in training for each fight, he still takes the time to get out of the gym on a regular basis. “I grew up in Santa Cruz, so I enjoy the outdoors,” Luke explained. “So I have to get out of the gym. For me, my time away from the gym gives me perspective and fuels the fire, so when I go back in the gym I can absorb more information.” Luke pointed out that fighters who don’t leave the gym often plateau, unable to process all the new information being thrown at them with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.
Test Yourself Against the Best
Luke has consistently trained with two of the best fighters of all time, Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, going toe to toe with them in the gym every day. He also tests himself by taking on the best fighter in any gym he walks into around the world. Testing yourself against the best forces you to focus more deeply, increase your speed and grow your skills faster.
Create the Space to Attack
In mixed martial arts, inches can be the difference between victory and defeat. Luke gives an example from his ‘ground game’ skillset, “Every inch you can create distance, you can create that much more velocity in your shots.” So Luke works on this aspect of his skillset consistently, turning it into a major advantage. Often opponents cannot “feel” him like they’re accustomed to, and Luke is able to land shots they don’t expect.
In a world where many fighters never come back from a major defeat, how do you come back stronger and reclaim your place? According to Luke, the key to bouncing back is to stay confident in yourself. Put the defeat behind you and refuse to fight scared. “If you hesitate for one second, the other guy’s going to beat you to the punch. Unexplainable things happen in fighting, but in that cage it’s a different world. You have to let go and have confidence that you’re going to beat them to the punch.”
Luke Rockhold is a mixed martial artist and former UFC Middleweight Champion. A two-time world champion, Rockhold has been ranked the #2 middleweight and #12 official pound-for-pound fighter by the UFC and other publications like Fight Matrix and Sherdog. A native of Santa Cruz, CA, Luke is also an avid surfer and skateboarder.