Rockhold was watching McGregor’s fight with Dustin Poirier as he logged on to VersusGame, an app where fans can make wagers based on predictions and opinions. As he took in the ambience of the fight, he realized his prediction on the app came true, and yet he was surprised by the X’s and O’s of how the actual fight played out.
“I did watch it, and my bet was the over/under of three rounds,” Rockhold told MMA Fighting. “I can’t give an exact opinion, but I assumed it would [end] earlier than that like it did. I mean, nobody can predict freakin’ Conor breaking his [tibia].
“I was surprised that Conor would waste that, but maybe he jumped the guillotine because he hurt his leg earlier and went to that angle. Dustin came in and wrestled, kept him on his back, and Conor needs to learn how to get up. That’s the game. But you never know, he could come back, reset, his tibia broke and that’s the fight game. People can’t predict the stuff that happens.”
Just days after the event ended, Xtreme Couture head coach Eric Nicksick released a slow motion video of the final sequence of the fight and his mother’s opinion that McGregor’s tibia snapped from the teep kick thrown before the final punches were exchanged and McGregor fell to the canvas.
Credit to my mom, yes, my mom wrote me at 7am to tell me she thinks Conor broke his foot off Dustin’s elbow after throw the rear teep kick. After slowing it down, it makes a lot of sense. Watch the integrity of his foot before and after. You be the judge. #UFC264 pic.twitter.com/7MFzpkVe0r— Eric Nicksick (@Eric_XCMMA) July 12, 2021
The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion agrees the teep may have been the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae when it came to the sequence of events that led to the injury. But he also agrees with Poirier when he said that the damage was accrued through various McGregor leg kicks being potentially checked.
“There’s no way his tibia breaks just from the elbow from the kick that I saw,” Rockhold said. “Obviously it was checked hard and it was ready to go, and then it broke through. And that’s why I held back on my kicks.
“My first kick against Yoel Romero fractured my leg. My leg was cracked and I knew it was compromised and I had to work around it. I couldn’t kick more. I knew I was being effective with it, but my leg was falling apart. I knew something was wrong.
“Obviously something happened before and Poirier was acknowledging that. I think he checked him really hard, I think it was fractured and the elbow kick probably put it over the top.”
Rockhold hopes to make a return to the octagon later this year for the first time in over two years, though he told MMA Fighting he is having a frustrating time getting a fight that is worth his while—whether from a meritocracy or excitement standpoint. The 36-year-old’s last appearance was in the light heavyweight division, where he suffered a second-round knockout loss to now world champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239 in July 2019.
A lot has been made about McGregor’s post-fight behavior. When Rockhold was asked his opinion on the matter, he didn’t dive into it specifically, yet he gave the former two-division champion credit for putting himself in the position to be the biggest star in the sport.
“It’s f*ckin’ Conor, man,” Rockhold stated. “He’s a promoting genius and there’s a lot of f*ckin’ people that want to see him win. A lot of people want to see him lose. He’s doing it right. Whatever he’s doing, he’s doing it right. So good on him.”