Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold had a lot to unload during UFC 278’s media day. Most of his complaints were centered around fighter pay, as he believes the current owners allowed UFC president Dana White to “run the show and suppress the sport.”
After his UFC 278 ‘Fight of the Night’ performance against Paulo Costa, White simply brushed off these comments, saying he has “nothing but respect” for the ex-titleholder. Rockhold, however, still holds the same gripes towards his now former employer.
“Why do you think I’m so mad at Dana? Because Dana never gave me a chance,” he told Ariel Helwani in a recent appearance on the MMA Hour. “From the moment I came in the UFC, he never gave me a f—ng chance. Wrote me off, never highlighted my years in Strikeforce or anything I did on the wins and only my losses.
“Dana White controls the narrative of what the public perceives. He f—ked me from the start and it took me 16, 17 years to come back and give a fight like that (at UFC 278) to earn my respect. Nothing I did in the past mattered until now.”
Rockhold also feels the UFC purposely fed him to a “juiced to the gills” Vitor Belfort when they fought in 2013 for his debut with the organization.
“Everyone else garnered their attention coming in, and I looked like this kid that no one wanted to respect, I guess. From him, and so on. And they made me go down to f—ng Steroidville in f—ng Brazil and fight Vitor,” he said.
“Everyone else got respect and was going into world championship fights and consideration for it. I got nothing…
“Had to go fight Vitor and they knew what they were doing back then. Protecting him and motherf—r’s juiced to the gills. I had to get cleaned by him and knocked down and belittled by everybody. And then build myself back up. I’m good at building myself back up.”
After the Belfort loss, Rockhold went on to win five straight bouts, all by finishes, to win the UFC middleweight title in 2015.
In his most recent bout, the 37-year-old Rockhold lost to Costa via unanimous decision, which led to his retirement announcement right after. The former UFC and Strikeforce champion left the sport with a record of 16-6 (6-5 in the UFC).