While many believe interim titles to be pointless, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold disagrees.

Rockhold, who continues to prepare for his return to the Octagon, talked with Submission Radio about interim titles, facing Robert Whittaker and more during a recent interview.

On if his knee is now 100% fixed

“If you want to go to my Instagram and look at my story, you know, I just posted last night. I was just ripping my left kick and feeling nothing, really. This last week was the real first week I started throwing kicks, inside leg kicks, getting checked and nothing really came back on me. So I’m 100 percent ready, I’m hungry and July 8th is my date. So now it’s just time to find the right dance partner”

“How about Bobby Knuckles, man? Your boy is looking good. Aussies got something to believe in right now. He’s looking fresh, looking tight and I think we make a lot of sense right now. The kid wants to get his title shot, there’s a long list of guys in line right now and I’m looking to get back at it. So I don’t see anything better. I appreciate the competition and I like what the kid’s done and I want to test him and I want to test myself and get back at it.”

Luke’s reaction to Whittaker beating Jacare

“Man, I’ve seen Robert… he’s tough, he’s got heavy hands, he’s quick in and out. I thought he would chew Jacare up on the feet if it got stuck there, I just didn’t think it would get stuck there. Question mark was, how good is his takedown defence? And when he got to the ground, he was very tight, calm, composed and got his ass up. So I got nothing bad to say about the kid. He’s looking really solid and he’s growing everywhere. Seems like he’s getting better everywhere and he’s the real deal. So yeah, I was impressed.”

If Rockhold expected Whittaker to come so far in the division and get to a point where he himself is calling him out

“I’ve been looking for a fight between all these guys. I’m not necessarily calling him out. We’re running out of opponents. Anderson Silva declined a fight. Other guys are obviously out of the mix. Yoel’s waiting for an interim title or the real title. I need to re-establish myself and he looked good. I kept my eye on Robert after that win after that night. After that night. Not before, but after. When he beat (Clint Hester) he looked sharp. I was in the back getting ready for my fight and I seen him do his thing. And then the fights to follow that. The kid looked good, he’s been a top prospect around and (better) than the people that have been around for some time. So I’ve been watching him and he’s come along nicely.”

On why Anderson Silva turned him down to fight at UFC 212

“I don’t think he likes the match-up. Yeah, I don’t know. They offered me the fight, it was way before my projected date when I would be ready, but the fight with Anderson, it seemed fun at the time to go down to Rio and do it. So I was up for it. I think he’s looking for other routes. I’m not sure exactly what he’s doing. I don’t know if he’s trying to get favourable match-ups. I think he thinks he matches up well with the likes of Kelvin Gastelum for some reason and I think he’s kind of put himself on the line where he could potentially leapfrog us and jump for a title. So who knows. If he wants to get back out there and fight for the title, if he wants to fight the guys, I mean, fight the guys. Fight the top guys. You know, this isn’t the legends league. If you want to fight in the UFC at the top of the game when you’re ranked like that, you should fight the best guys out there. And the UFC wanted it, Dana wanted it, everyone wanted it. Anderson declined it.”

If the fight at UFC 212 with Anderson Silva is definitely not happening

“No. It’s 100 percent over. I don’t know what Anderson’s… Anderson’s not about it. He made an excuse saying I’m coming off a loss and (he’s) coming off a win, but if you look at his record he’s one-four and one in his last five fights, six fights and his win is questionable. So I don’t know where he is. He’s justifying that case is kind of… I don’t really understand that justification. So I’m just coming off a title loss and going five and one against the best guys in the world. So yeah, good luck with that one. But we’re moving on to UFC 213 and we’re trying to find a contender, somebody who’s up there, somebody who wants to get dirty and get back to that title and that’s what I want.”

If it’s disappointing that Anderson shot the fight down and is picking and choosing his opponents like other legends in the division such as Bisping

“Of course. It’s what I said, it’s straight up – If you’re gonna fight in the UFC, you’ve got to fight the people that are contenders. If you’re looking to be a contender, if you’re looking to fight at the top of the game, you know – or you and Vitor Belfort can go start a legends league. That’s fair. This is the game. Fight if you want to fight. Especially when they offer you a fight to fill in. So I don’t know. That’s my opinion.”

On the keys to beating Robert Whittaker

“To do my thing, not get overaggressive, fight the way I need to fight like what got me to the title and what won me the title. I’m gonna use my length, use my skills and every asset, every asset I’ve got. So Rob’s good, but I know I match up well with anybody in this game and I know I could pick off anybody. I still believe I’m the best guy out there and so I’m ready to go prove it against one of the best up-and-coming kids.”

If taking Rob down and using his BJJ is the best key to victory for Luke to beat him

“I never force takedowns. I’m in there to fight. I take what presents itself. If Rob falls on the ground, you know, maybe I’ll take it there. But that’s nothing I’m looking for pushing in this fight. I’m very comfortable in my range, my distance, my kicks. That’s something that’s going to be hard for Rob to get through. So I got my game on the feet and I know I got a large advantage on the ground. He’s sharp, he’s fast, he’s in and out. I like where he’s at. I’ve watched the kid, I’ve studied the kid and I want to go out there, I want a challenge and I want to test this kid too. So I mean, who else is there right now? Yoel’s waiting for the belt, we’re on hold waiting for GSP and Bisping. I mean, how long is this kid gonna wait? And I don’t wait any longer, I want to put myself in line to fight for the title.”

On having no interest in fighting Mousasi

“Gegard just lost to Jacare, so I’m going for the best of the best. That’s my opinion.”

On why Rockhold would choose fighting Werdum over Mousasi

“Yes, Werdum is someone that, you know, I’m tired of people talking. If you’re gonna run your mouth, talk about it and talk about grappling matches, you know, fuck off. If you want to fucken do it for real, let’s fight.”

“I told him straight up, I’d move up to heavyweight and I’d fight him. I fight heavyweights every day in the gym. I know where I stand with the best heavyweights in the world and what I’m capable of. And I’m not just running my mouth when I say that I’ll move up to heavyweight and I’ll fight him. He thinks he’s in line for a title, which is complete bullshit. Last thing the UFC wants is him fighting for a title.”

Why Luke thinks Werdum declined to fight him and how the beef between them started

“He was very disrespectful. He was just a completely disrespectful human being. He’s pretty much a slime ball. I’m over the guy. He ran his mouth and called me disrespectful when he was completely out of line and for years to come. So, settle it. I don’t know. You want to talk about a chicken? You’re talking about a middleweight coming up to fight you at heavyweight that you declined that the UFC was into. So who’s the chicken?”

What kind of size Rockhold would put on for that fight

“I wouldn’t cut any weight, I’ll tell you that. I’d be in shape, I’d be in my weight. I don’t know, maybe 210 (pounds). A little bit of lifting. Not really though, I’m not a big weight lifter. But I’d eat well and I’d train hard and I might bulk up a little bit, but I wouldn’t be more than 210, 212. Werdum is not a big wrestler, not something I gotta worry about muscle-wise. I’d use speed, quickness and use my athleticism. He can’t take me down. If he tries he’s gonna find himself in more trouble, so I’d pick him off on the outside and do my thing.”

On the fight between GSP/Bisping being drawn out for so long and still not having a set date

“Yeah, it all comes down to GSP. I think he chose the fight and they want a big fight and so he somehow is dragging this thing on. You wonder how long they can hold the division hostage for a guy like GSP. I think there’s other fights they can make, so they need to get on with it. I heard from a very reliable source GSP’s not fighting till September. So it would be a joke if they held that off ‘til September. They’re better off booking and making Bisping fight Yoel Romero and then we can get on with this thing and get this division back to where it needs to be.”

If Luke is a fan of bringing in an Interim title to the middleweight division

“I am. I’m a fan of it. You know, an interim title – people will want to run their mouth and say what they will, but an interim title is a guarantee at the title shot. You put yourself in line. It’s like, if they’re gonna hold everything hostage the way they are, with no telling of what’s gonna happen with the winner of these guys, you know, (if) they want to fight. You never know. What are they gonna say? What is GSP gonna do when he holds the title? What, is he gonna then want to fight Conor McGregor for the middleweight title? I mean, come on. They don’t exactly understand what can happen after these fights. Bisping, if he’s trying to flex as much as he is now, what happens if he beats GSP? He’s not gonna want to fight a contender now. So the best fight the best. That’s what made this company what it is. They need to get back to it.”

If Rockhold wants an interim title on the line when he fights Whittaker next?

“No, not necessarily. I think with Yoel in the mix too it’s tough. Gauging them, they’re not gonna do it. I know what’s going on in the back end and what’s going through. They’re not gonna do it. But you know what, I am very confident in going out there and beating a Robert Whittaker and push myself. I mean, Yoel can wait as long as he wants. He beat a broken Weidman already. So going in there and taking out the top contender, I think it says even more than what the guy’s done.”

The ideal timeline for Rockhold’s octagon return

“At this point, I like the biggest stage in the game, Las Vegas international fight week. I wanna come back in a big way and that’s the best stage to do it on. So that is ideal. If there’s a later date, you know, I could be open to it depending on circumstances. But that’s what I’m looking at right now. But we’ll see. If the stakes are high enough and in close enough proximity, I could push back a little bit. But I don’t feel anything sooner really at this point.”