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Sean Strickland laughs off Luke Rockhold withdrawal: ‘He was never going to make it to the fight’

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Sean Strickland
Chris Unger, Zuffa LLC

Sean Strickland isn’t surprised in the slightest that his UFC 268 opponent didn’t make it to fight night.

On Monday, Luke Rockhold announced that a back injury has forced him to withdraw from a scheduled middleweight bout with Strickland, which was to take place Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. No timetable has been suggested for Rockhold’s return. The 36-year-old former UFC champion has not competed since July 2019.

Following the announcement, Strickland took to Instagram where he issued a pair of comments in response to Rockhold having to pull out.

He was never going to make it to the fight lmao... no one is surprised

I sparred him once and almost put him out.. didn’t even spar the second round, walked out of the gym lmao.. I knew this wasn’t happening

Strickland wrote that he never expected Rockhold to show and suggested that he outclassed Rockhold when the two previously sparred.

A litany of injuries have limited Rockhold’s octagon time over the past few years as he has competed just three times since losing the UFC middleweight title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in 2016. Rockhold’s most recent fight, which took place at 205 pounds, ended in disaster as he was knocked out in the second round by future champion Jan Blachowicz.

Officials are currently seeking a replacement opponent for Strickland, the No. 9-ranked middleweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings. Strickland has emerged as a sleeper contender at middleweight, with consecutive wins over Uriah Hall, Krzysztof Jotko, Brendan Allen (at a 195-pound catchweight), and Jack Marshman.