Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold is one step closer to making his return to the Octagon. And he is getting the ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’ opponent he has been asking for.
Aaron Bronsteter of TSN has reported that Rockhold and Sean Strickland have verbally agreed to fight at UFC 268 in November. UFC president Dana White told Bronsteter just one day prior to the eventual agreement that Rockhold had been offered Strickland and the brass was simply awaiting his acceptance.
Rockhold made the decision to move up from middleweight to light heavyweight in his last appearance, where he was knocked out by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239. It was his second straight loss by knockout which led Rockhold to ponder retirement, but he decided against it last year and prepared to make a comeback. The problem was that Rockhold was not receiving any enticing offers for an opponent and became annoyed with being turned down by names at the top of the division. His tune slightly changed after the aforementioned Strickland emerged as a top-ten contender following his domination of Uriah Hall at UFC Vegas 33 this past Saturday.
Rockhold spoke to Submission Radio recently and explained why he warmed up to the idea of fighting Strickland, who he says was previously offered to him a long time ago.
“They offered me Sean actually a while back, a while back,” said Rockhold. “And I just wasn’t interested because he’s a f—king nobody and it wasn’t the fight I wanted. It didn’t make any sense, no one knew of him and I didn’t give to f—ks about him. And now its like Dana [White] is trying to piss me off with it.
“And now he’s obviously went out there, he beat Uriah Hall and looked decent and he took a ranking,” continued Rockhold. “There’s something to work with I guess now. And everybody else is just — they offered it to Uriah and Uriah chose Strickland instead of me. They offered the [Khamzat] Chimaev fight. Obviously it didn’t come to be. I liked that too, that was exciting. That kind of got me up. I don’t know, this is what we have and there were a few other fights they kind of dicked around with. So, this is seemingly going to happen. We just gotta get a good fight date and something that’s f—king sexy and timely.”
Rockhold also expressed his disdain for Strickland and his post-fight comments, which were criticized for being a bit too over the top. The 30-year-old said he would probably be ‘cooking meth in a trailer in prison’ and ‘super happy’ to kill someone in the cage. Rockhold could not believe what he was hearing from Strickland.
“Did that guy just really say that? And then like my manager told me that’s his thing, that he says that every time,” said Rockhold. “And I’m like what a f—king idiot.”
Those comments were obviously not taken too kindly by Strickland, who later uploaded a video response to Rockhold on Instagram. He begins by saying people have made him aware of Rockhold calling him a ‘nobody’ and a ‘f—king idiot’ and cautioned him against saying things like that since they could run into each other before the actual fight happens.
“All these things, they might be true,” said Strickland. “But I’ll tell you one thing, man. Me and you might never fight. I don’t care about fighting in the cage for any reasons. I like to get paid. It’s something I enjoy, but I’ll tell you f—king one thing. You just can’t live in a radius of me and run your f—king mouth and not expect for me to hit you in the face. We don’t have to fight. That’s fine, but I’m going to run into you at RVCA. I’m going to see you in the parking lot and going to walk up to you and smack you in the f—king face because you seem like the kind of p—y that runs his f—king mouth and gets hit and then calls the cops.
“You’re such a smug, cocky mother—ker that I would probably take a misdemeanor charge just to f—king smack you and watch your f—king head bounce on the ground. So again, man. We don’t gotta fight but don’t f—king run your mouth because I’m gonna see you again and I’m going to smack you in the f—king face.”
With the pending addition of Rockhold vs. Strickland, UFC 268 is shaping up to be a blockbuster card. It is expected to be headlined by the championship welterweight rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. It is also supposed to feature a lightweight fight between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler, but that may be in jeopardy of being moved.