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Morning Report: Luke Rockhold says his UFC contract has gotten better but 'there's still a lot of improvement to make'

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Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold says the UFC has helped resolve some of his previous contractual misgivings but that there is still room to get better.

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Yesterday, Georges St-Pierre went on The MMA Hour and dropped a bomb, saying that he was no longer under contract with the UFC and declaring himself a "free agent" (a claim the UFC does not seem to agree with). And while the validity of St-Pierre's claim will be argued about going forward, the undercurrent of the situation appears to be an inability to come to contractual terms for his return. It's the latest instance of an increasingly common event in the UFC: fighter and promoter not seeing eye to eye.

Among the fighters who have recently been less than pleased with the UFC is former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. Just last month Rockhold complained about a restructuring of his contract after the title loss, calling the money "bullsh*t" and refusing to accept an offered fight at what he felt was below his personal value. Shortly after that, the UFC assuaged some of Rockhold's issues and booked him in a rematch against Jacare Souza for later this year. Speaking recently with Submission Radio, Rockhold addressed his contractual issues and how he views the potential for fighters to walk away from the UFC in favor of Bellator, while hinting that he still isn't happy with his contract.

"There's another league, they have good money, that is an option for some people. For me, it's gotta make sense. Dollars make sense. And so if the dollars aren't up to par, then what's the point? For me, I've put my time in this sport, I think I've earned my reputation and I have a leg to stand on when I make a demand like that.

"My contract, I'd done up early on and I was informed that I'd be taken care of if I held up my part of the bargain. I think signing that contract before Machida, beating a champion in Machida decisively, putting him away and putting away Chris Weidman, you know, making a hiccup in Bisping shouldn't set me back to where I was. And so I had told them how I felt about it and so we moved in a better direction, but I think there's still a lot of improvement to make."

As stated, Rockhold isn't the only fighter to be unhappy with his UFC contract recently. Jose Aldo has demanded the UFC release him. Khabib Nurmagomedov has also threatened to walk if he doesn't get a title shot for his next fight. Al Iaquinta retired rather than fight for less than he thought he was worth. And many more on top of these. But of all the people who have been vocally unhappy with their lot in the UFC, Rockhold remains one of the few who have had his issues handled swiftly, which Rockhold puts down to his standing with the organization.

"They’re gonna play hardball with some people. Some people don’t have a leg to stand on, I guess surprisingly enough. I know Weidman has his own issues too. A lot of people thought they’ll follow suit, I guess, after seeing what did – it didn’t work out for some of them. I think it depends on knowing what your worth is, knowing what you’re capable of and how far you can push."

And it seems like Rockhold thinks he has room to push a bit more. When asked about if he would continue to renegotiate his contract after his fight with Souza, Rockhold said that it would likely depend on if he gets a title shot next.

"That all depends on who I fight and what happens. So I mean, if I beat Jacare, if that title fight isn't waiting for me at my doorstep, well I'm sure we'll talk."

A title shot with a win is far from guaranteed for Rockhold. At UFC 205, Chris Weidman fights Yoel Romero and the winner of that fight will also have a strong claim to a middleweight title shot. It may well be one of those scenarios where whoever comes off looking more impressive gets jumped to the front of the line. Rockhold would love to be the one to get that chance.

"I expect that's going to happen and I don't expect anything else. I've already beaten everybody else. I've beaten Bisping, I've beaten Weidman and I've beaten Jacare and I don't think I could decisively beat Weidman any better, really. And Jacare, of course we had a tough fight, but if I go out there and I put him away like I believe I'll do, I don't think there's anything left to say."

For his part, at UFC 204 Bisping successfully defended his title for the first time, winning a narrow decision victory over Dan Henderson. It was a fight many were upset over because Bisping passed up "more credible challengers" to rematch a fringe top 15 contender in his weight class and Bisping added fuel to this ire by calling out Georges St-Pierre for his next title fight before 204. It was a move that greatly irked many in the division, including Rockhold.

"It just sounds like he's bitching out from wanting to fight the top guys. I don't know, he's trying to run into any situation that seems like it's going to be more favorable for him. You know, I always thought the guy was tougher than he seems to be putting off now. I mean, it's easy to go fight when you've got nothing to lose. When you have something to lose, that shows your true manhood, and now he's got something, now he's running scared. So man up and fight the top dudes."

But St-Pierre's looming contractual dispute with the UFC means Bisping is very likely to face the winner of one of the upcoming middleweight contender match-ups next. If Rockhold is the one who gets that call, he says would love to settle the score, even if he has to do it in the early morning hours for a pay-per-view in England.

"There will be nothing sweeter, nothing sweeter than going back to Manchester and *five o clocking* his ass."

Luke Rockhold rematches Jacare Souza on Nov. 27 at UFC Fight Night 101 in Melbourne, Australia.

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MUST-READ STORIES

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Free Agent. Georges St-Pierre says he is no longer under contract with the UFC.

DMs. Gegard Mousasi says "ginger-headed f**k" Conor McGregor threatened him over Twitter.

Still in it. Vitor Belfort's team clarifies that Belfort is not retiring despite cryptic Instagram post.

Stacked. WSOF cancels two events, stacks their New Year's Eve card with three title fights.

Instant. Brazilian MMA athletic commission approves the use of instant replay.

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MEDIA STEW

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A particularly awesome free fight

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TTTHS got on this quick.

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Andy backtracking with the quickness.

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Kimbo Jr. on Antonio Brown's cleats honoring his dad.

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The Menace continues his journey of trying to be an internet sensation.

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And since he had a fight announced today, here is Mike Perry being interviewed from a bit ago. I recommend 3:57 and 5:40.

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LISTEN UP

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Fights Gone By

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Anik and Flo

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TWEETS

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Gonna be a line forming.

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Talk about getting overshadowed.

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Against Mr. Mike Perry.

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This is gonna be interesting.

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Champion training

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JJ throwin them bows.

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He knows Kung Fu.

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Ali Bagautinov (14-4-0) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (17-2-0); UFC Fight Night 99, November 19.

James Moontasri (9-4-0) vs. Alex Morono (12-3-0); UFC on Fox 22, December 17.

Alan Jouban (14-4-0) vs. Mike Perry (9-0-0); UFC on Fox 22, December 17.

Colby Covington (10-1-0) vs. Bryan Barberena (12-3-0); UFC on Fox 22, December 17.

Jake Shields (31-8-1) vs. Jon fitch (28-7-1); WSOF 36, December 31.

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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

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2008: Michael Bisping won a unanimous decision over Chris Leben in the main event of UFC 89.It was after this fight that Leben tested positive for Stanozolol and was suspended for 9 months.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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GSP vs. Chael Sonnen. Coming soon to a Bellator PPV near you.

Be easy y'all.

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If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.