Coker and Rockhold

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Scott Coker made a play for his pal Luke Rockhold’s services once again, but for now the former champ has gone a different direction.

Coker had Rockhold as part of his middleweight roster in Strikeforce from 2008-2012, and the Bay Area native won the title in 2011. He defended it twice in 2012 before he went to the UFC after Strikeforce was dissolved.

Rockhold went on to win the UFC’s middleweight title, though he lost it in his first attempted defense. Rockhold stepped away from the sport for more than three years before he returned this past August at UFC 278, where he lost a Fight of the Night decision to Paulo Costa.

Rockhold announced his retirement after the fight and was released from his UFC deal. But already, he needed to scratch his competitive itch. Coker said he had a conversation with Rockhold about coming to Bellator – and thought the promotion was in the running.

“Luke and I had a great conversation in L.A. during the Fedor fight,” Coker said at the Bellator 292 post-fight news conference this past Friday in San Jose, Calif. “We had a great conversation and we were going to continue our dialogue and I was hopeful that we would at least have another conversation to see if there was something to be done.”

Instead, Rockhold signed a deal to fight fellow former UFC fighter Mike Perry in a bareknuckle boxing match at BKFC 41 on April 29 in Denver.

It didn’t seem like Coker has any hard feelings, even though he would’ve liked to win the Rockhold lottery that few people thought would be up for grabs so soon.

“It seems like they got a really good offer from Bareknuckle, and I don’t blame him,” Coker said. “He’s a prize fighter and he’s going to go fight. He’s got to feed his family and take care of himself. So that’s what worked out. Let’s see what happens. To me, it was a little bit of surprise. But this is a business. Friendship aside, Luke and I can go and play golf and hang out and have lunch and be boys, but this is a business.”