‘They’re letting Dana just run the show and suppress the sport’

SALT LAKE CITY – Luke Rockhold strolled into the media room at the host hotel ahead of his official UFC 278 pre-fight news conference.

With water in one hand and a coffee in the other, the fuzzy sweater-donning Rockhold (16-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC) looked around and slid the promotion-sponsored Monster Energy bottle out of the frame of the cameras.

As he sat, his cellphone rang. He forgot to turn it silent. That wasn’t the only thing Rockhold needed to readjust to after a three-year layoff. As he answered the first question, he forgot to speak into the microphone.

“Whoops, it’s been a while,” Rockhold told reporters including MMA Junkie.

Typically, with a fighter of Rockhold’s status, the discussion is based around the fight – an increasingly rare chance to see a former champion compete. Those questions still existed, but Rockhold spent much of his time airing grievances, similar to what he did in a string of individual interviews with media outlets in recent days.

His outspeak centered around fighter pay, largely, with an emphasized aggravation on the rate of increase. Rockhold said he’s not afraid to voice these concerns, as he’s at a point in his career where he’s already hit the top of the mountain.

“I’m not saying anything that’s not real,” Rockhold said. “Everything I’m saying is justified and truthful. Just because I should be in a position of power before I say this sh*t? Fuck off. I have nothing to lose. I don’t need this business. I love fighting, and I’m here to fight the best motherf*ckers, and this happens to be the place where it’s done. The company is f*cking growing, and they’re implementing other little stupid-ass bonuses – $5,000 here, $5,000 there. $50,000, man? We’ve been stuck on this motherf*cker for 20 f*cking years. I mean, back when GSP was fighting Jake (Shields), I mean, what was it? $100,000? F*cking it was growing.”

Rockhold specifically pointed to UFC ownership, Endeavor, which purchased the company in 2016 for $4 billion, as part of the issue. Under the old regime, Rockhold doesn’t think the same problems would exist.

“When Lorenzo and Frank (Fertitta) were running the show, there were real grounding wires,” Rockhold said. “These guys don’t know what they’re doing, and they’re letting Dana just run the show and suppress the sport. They need to grow. This whole f*cking thing needs to grow together. Our lives are on the f*cking line. Healthcare needs to be taken care of. Our f*cking health needs to be taken care of. Mine has not been taken care of. Do you know what I mean?

“There’s a lot of people and things that need to change. I’m just not going to be afraid to say it. Everyone wants to f*cking get that title shot. They want to move up. I’ve f*cking done it all. It’s like, yeah, this is business. Every business is like this. It’s about leverage. It’s a game of leverage and life. It’s about f*cking always keeping the upper hand. It’s not right here. It’s everywhere. And if you let these motherf*ckers think they have this leverage, it’s only going to grow above you. It’s just people understanding their worth.”

Healthcare was the second main focus of Rockhold’s lengthy criticism. Although he elected not to go into details of whatever the issues were he was referring to, Rockhold said he’d like the UFC to cover athletes year-round.

“Things should be easier,” Rockhold said. “The insurance should be year-round. There should be real health (care). The giant is growing and if there’s one thing that should be paramount, it should be our fighters’ health. All these things get played and then it’s like, we should have f*cking health (care) in every facet, so we don’t have to worry about sh*t. Our lives and our bodies are on the line every f*cking time (we) step into that cage. If we’re not f*cking protected, it’s like f*ck. Come on. Wake up.”

Minutes after openly criticizing alternative sports media sources for what he sees as a frequent lack of preparation, Rockhold also expressed how he doesn’t love the new breed of fighters like Sean O’Malley and Paddy Pimblett. However, Rockhold said the leverage he sees them configuring is very admirable.

“As much as I dislike where these guys are going and what they represent, the f*cking Sean O’Malleys and the Paddys, these guys have leveraged the game,” Rockhold said. “They know what’s going on and they have the power. I’d like to see it be done differently. Whatever. (I) f*cking respected them for understanding that and taking the time away. The Paddy kid seems to have a good (head on his shoulders). They’re both not dumb, at all. They both are doing their thing.

“I just would like to see better culture grow.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 278.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button
BIELSKO1