Former UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold is set for a return to the Octagon in November at UFC 268 — drawing the surging, Sean Strickland in a main card clash. However, the pair have traded notable barbs back and forth to each other in the run-up to their showdown.
Returning to the middleweight ranks following a July 2019 knockout loss to current light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz in his divisional bow, Rockhold attempts to snap a two-fight losing skid when matched against Strickland.
The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight kingpin underwent successful surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his time away from the Octagon, and with the emergence of the prominent puncher, Strickland, accepted an Octagon return for November as part of that high-profile pairing.
Rockhold drew the attention of Strickland recently, who claimed he would take a misdemeanor charge for assaulting the former champion outside of the Octagon if he met him in person.
“All these things might be true,” Strickland said in a video posted on his Instagram. “But I’ll tell you one thing. Me and you (Luke Rockhold) might never fight. I don’t care about fighting in the cage for ego reasons. I like to get paid at something I enjoy. But I’ll tell you f*cking one thing. You just can’t live in a radius of me and run your f*cking mouth and not expect for me to hit you in the face.“
“We don’t need to fight,” Strickland explained before the bout had been agreed upon. “That’s fine. But I’m going to run into you at RUCA (stylized as RVCA). I’m going to see you in the parking lot, and I’m going to walk up to you and smack you in the f*cking face. And you seem like the kind of p*ssy that runs his f*cking mouth and gets hit and then calls the cops. But you’re such a smug, cocky motherf*cker… I would probably take a misdemeanor charge just to smack you and watch your f*cking head bounce off the ground. So again, we don’t gotta fight. But don’t run your f*cking mouth, because I’m going to see you again, and I’m going to smack you in the f*cking face.“
Whilst claiming he would take a charge to settle his difference with Rockhold outside of the Octagon, the veteran former champion himself claimed he would serve jail time if they were to clash in a parking lot.
“I just don’t like him (Sean Strickland), man,” Rockhold told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “He’s got a bad attitude. He’s that guy in the gym that just no one likes ’em — the worst energy you’ve ever felt. I didn’t like him at first. I think the first time he walked in the gym I was hungover, I was beat up, and I was watching the guy run around the gym barking, talking, saying the dumbest sh*t. Just not really like a good person, put off everybody, not a care for anybody in the gym. So I just kind of got frustrated listening to him talk, like this kid’s a f*cking idiot. Maybe I will put the gloves on, I’ll go spar him. I’ll work with him one time. That’s really the only encounter I ever had with him.“
Rockhold went on to point out his issue with recent comments made by Strickland following a unanimous decision win over Uriah Hall, where he claimed that it was a fantasy of his to kill an opponent during a fight.
“Other than that, him (Strickland) saying that he wants to kill people in the ring,” Rockhold explained. “Like, ‘It would be cool if I killed a guy.’ What the f*ck are you talking about, dude? Those are the people that need to die themselves. Then you want to talk about coming in the parking lot — coming after me. I didn’t say anything really about you but what did he say? Something about a misdemeanour and sh*t? Motherf*cker, you come at me, you touch me in the parking lot I’ll be the one in jail. I promise you that. You’ll be the one, people will have to question if you’re alive.“
16-5 as a professional mixed martial artist, Rockhold’s last professional victory came opposite former two-weight WSOF champion, David Branch, where he scored an eventual second round finish with strikes in the main event of UFC Fight Night Pittsburg in September 2017.
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