Rockhold: MMA losing integrity, needs to get back to its roots

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold appeared recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour and expressed concerns about the state of the division, and the sport.

“I love fighting. I want to fight, but there are principles in this game,” said Rockhold, as transcribed by Jeff Cain for MMA Weekly. “You’ve got to have morals. I’m not just going to fight fights to fight to get nowhere.”

“There’s been talks along the way about potential this and potential that. They’re trying to make fights like Yoel Romero right now. Why would I fight Yoel Romero when there’s no clear-cut person fighting Whittaker? Obviously, I want to fight for the title. If that’s available, I’m not going to f***ing sign any fight. I want to fight for the title, and if that’s available then that’s what I’m going to do.

“Don’t try to make me fight fights when, you tell me, what’s a number one contender fight these days? Did Georges St-Pierre fight a number one contender fight? I don’t think so. There’s no point in fighting guys when there’s no structure, there’s no rhyme or reason to who gets the title shot.”

“Nate Diaz is my boy, but the fact that they were even negotiating Nate Diaz for a welterweight title shot doesn’t make sense. It’s disrespectful to everybody in the f***ing division. We work our asses off to get to where we are. It’s a f***ing sport. It’s pissing me off. It’s losing its integrity and it needs to get back to its roots.”

The issue, of course, comes down to money, and Rockhold is no different than the UFC. The UFC is not a non-profit like USA Boxing, it’s a for-profit company with a $4 billion note to cover. And Rockhold is a very smart, top fighter in a field with a very small window of opportunity. The UFC wants to put on the fights that fans most want to see; Rockhold wants to make as much money as he can.

This is the middleweight top 5:
Champion: Georges St-Pierre
Interim Champion: Robert Whittaker
2: Yoel Romero
3: Luke Rockhold
4: Jacare Souza
5: Chris Weidman

GSP should fight Whittaker for the unified title, and Romero should fight Rockhold for the #1 contender spot – it’s math. But Rockhold is not advocating for the fight that has integrity, he’s advocating for the fight with the biggest reward, just like the UFC is. This isn’t going to change. And the roots of the sports are Teila Tuli’s tooth and the OC run Pride, not something that we need to return to.