Luke Rockhold ended his MMA career with a bang in and out of the octagon.
Blood was shed at UFC 278, and in the co-main event, Rockhold made sure Paulo Costa left with a reminder of what they’d gone through. Costa defeated Rockhold via a hard-fought unanimous decision in the end, earning fight of the night honors in the process.
The fight was a wild and entertaining affair that gained newfound respect from many in the MMA community for the former UFC middleweight champion. A lot of the fight week buzz generated by Rockhold, however, was centered around external issues that were presented. Rockhold highlighted fighter pay issues and even targeted UFC President Dana White for disrespecting him throughout his career.
After Rockhold’s final fight, White openly expressed how he’ll “never say anything” bad about the 37-year-old and that he “totally respects” him.
“It definitely felt good to get that respect I felt I always deserved, but I guess you’ve got to get dirty and nasty sometimes to show people who the f*** you are,” Rockhold told MMA Junkie. “People want to assume I’m this, people want to assume I’m that. I’m sure the Polo [modeling] deal didn’t help — people just hated me even more. But that was the thing with Dana in the first place. He disrespected me when I lost the title and said, ‘You ain’t s***. You weren’t this, you weren’t that.’ I’m like, ‘F*** you, dude. I’ll go make my money elsewhere.’
“He’s like, ‘F***, fine, go do it,’ and guess what? I became the face of Polo Ralph Lauren, I had a worldwide commercial, I had [my face in] every airport in the world, and then Dana and the UFC were like, ‘Oh, can we give you this? Can we give you that?’ I did it so I could have leverage and respect. That’s why I did that. That was the whole point of that situation, and I got some back. But then I got a lot of disrespect from it because the whole world is just naive and they paint the picture for what they want the world to believe.”
Rockhold has continued to stay in the gym and be active with his training since retirement. As history has shown, MMA retirements truly never seem to last and Rockhold has already teased recently how an Alex Pereira title win at UFC 281 next month could lure him back. Time will tell if the underrated middleweight staple is actually done for good.
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Max Holloway fans: @BlessedMMA has a new sitdown conversation with @JamesPalmerTV and @Sun_Outdoors. Debuts on Monday, Oct. 17 and promises to "show the fighter's vulnerable side not normally seen by his fans."— John Morgan (@JohnMorgan_MMA) October 13, 2022
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