Luke Rockhold has a bone to pick with the UFC’s current promotional strategy. Especially the emphasis the company places on Dana White.
Michael Bisping may no longer be UFC middleweight champion, but the effects of his title reign seem to be lingering. Especially since newly minted belt holder Georges St-Pierre, hasn’t exactly shown a ready willingness to step back in the cage at 185 lbs. That means the rest of the 185 elite have been left trying to sort out just where they belong in the division’s title picture.
And to that end, Luke Rockhold seems to be getting sick of it.
The former middleweight champion returned to action for the first time – since dropping the belt to Bisping – with a win over David Branch, back in September. And while he’s potentially being lined up for a shot at interim champ Robert Whittaker, the ongoing move toward ‘money’ title fights has left Rockhold with one reason squarely in his sights, as to why title pictures in the UFC have become so murky of late. That reason? Over investment in Dana White, at the expense of the talent.
“I can’t understand what their thought process is these days,” Rockhold said in a recent interview on the MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Fighting). “They obviously don’t have a clear understanding of what they’re doing. They’re not following the recipe that has built this company. I don’t know, man. You invest in the fighters. Invest in the fighters.”
“No offense, but your investment is into Dana White,” Rockhold continued. “Dana White is not selling pay-per-views. Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight, Dana White Contender Series. Invest in the fighters and you’ll solve your problems. You’ll hit your marks. You’ll sell your pay-per-views. You’ll do your thing. Get it straight.”
“There’s no structure, there’s no rhyme or reason to who gets title shot. Nate Diaz is my guy, but the fact that they were even negotiating Nate Diaz for a welterweight title shot? It’s disrespectful to everybody in the f*cking division. These guys are, we work our asses off to get where we are, and it’s pissing me off. It’s losing its integrity and it needs to get back with its roots.”
White recently went on the record to say that Diaz was never officially offered a title bout with welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. A claim Nate has since disputed, asking White “why is u lying” in a short message posted to his Instagram account.
Now, rumors are swirling that Luke Rockhold is in talks to fight Robert Whittaker at UFC 221 in Australia, since GSP recently announced that he’s dealing with a colitis diagnosis that could keep him sidelined indefinitely. It may be a necessary move – with the belt once again on hold – but it only adds to the feeling that UFC titles aren’t meaning quite as much as they used to.