LOS ANGELES -- Does bachelorhood or family life make for a better fighter?
That question has become the unlikely faultline which has turned the buildup to the UFC 199 rematch between UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and former titleholder Chris Weidman substantially more tense and pointed than the leadup to their first meeting at UFC 194.
A Wednesday media tour of Los Angeles promoting their June 4 rematch in nearby Inglewood flared up early, when the duo touched upon family life during an appearance on ESPN's SportsCenter, then continued during a media day at the JW Marriott next to Staples Center.
At the heart of the matter is Rockhold, a noted bachelor, claiming the married Weidman's family life serves as a distraction.
"He's bringing up my family like it's a handicap," said Weidman. "He says I have more distractions because I have a family, which is immature and stupid of him to say. Some of the greatest leaders, some of the greatest athletes in the history of our planet have been married guys with families. For him to say that is kind of stupid."
For his part, Rockhold, who defeated Weidman via fourth-round TKO to win the title at UFC 194, says he only talks about it because Weidman brought it up first.
"Chris pries his family into every situation in the fight game," Rockhold said. "It's unfortunate, it makes you feel bad for him, but, I can't help but say, I see people with families and I see how it takes away, the fight game is different than any other sport. It's not the same as anything else. You've got to consume yourself. You got a training camp, and I put so much into it, I don't have any energy for anything but recovery and training and focusing on what's next. If you have a big family, it's going to take away from your objective."
Weidman counters that the single life carries a whole lot more potential for distraction than someone who's settled down.
"I would think there are more distractions when you're single," Weidman said. "But I'm not bringing that up. To each his own. He makes himself sound kind of stupid when he talks like that, and that bothers me a little bit. My kids and my family motivate me more than anything to train hard every day, knowing they're depending on me to take care of them. and to provide for them."
Appraised of Weidman's comments, Rockhold, with the last word for now, countered that single life is something you can shut off, while you can't neglect a family.
"I can cut off my single life," Rockhold said. "You can't cut off a family. What's the point? Yeah, I party. I go out, I enjoy myself, I have fun. I've done that my whole career. I've never changed that, I've never escalated my career because I'm more famous. I do it, but I always have my cutoff. You can't cut off your family. I put more in this game than anybody, that's why what comes out, comes out."