No one could have foreseen the chain of events which unfolded after one of the most improbable events in mixed martial arts history: Michael Bisping’s upset knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. to win the middleweight title .
That alone was unexpected, but the unexpected path continued over the next year and a half, one that left us where we are in the final month of 2017: With former longtime welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre as middleweight champ and Robert Whittaker as interim titleholder since March.
Rockhold, though, doesn’t believe he deserves any of the blame for these events. While it’s true his title loss to Bisping set the wheels in motion, it wasn’t his call to let Bisping evade the top contenders and instead fight the likes of St-Pierre and Dan Henderson.
“Don’t put this on me for Bisping getting away with what he got away with,” Rockhold said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “He should have fought Jacare first, then he should have fought Yoel second. He avoided everybody. Now we’re just, for letting him do what he did, he avoided everyone, now we’re digging ourselves deeper and I’m over it.”
The UFC’s ongoing problems aren’t just about chasing perceived “money fights” instead of following the logical championship progression, Rockhold said. It’s also about, in Rockhold’s view, the fact the company seems to put so much emphasis on the brand and on the promoter instead of building fighters into stars.
“I can’t understand what their thought process is these days,” Rockhold said. “They obviously don’t have a clear understanding of what they’re doing. They’re not following the recipe that has built this company. I don’t know, man. You invest in the fighters. Invest in the fighters.”
“No offense, but your investment is into Dana White,” Rockhold continued. “Dana White is not selling pay-per-views. Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight, Dana White Contender Series. Invest in the fighters and you’ll solve your problems. You’ll hit your marks. You’ll sell your pay-per-views. You’ll do your thing. Get it straight.”
Rockhold is 6-1 with six finishes over the past four years, with just the upset loss to Bisping as a blemish. But he’s still waiting to find out what’s going on and is frustrated with the entire process.
“There’s no structure, there’s no rhyme or reason to who gets title shot. Nate Diaz is my guy but the fact that they were even negotiating Nate Diaz for a welterweight title shot? It’s disrespectful to everybody in the f*cking division. These guys are, we work our asses off to get where we are, and it’s pissing me off. It’s losing its integrity and it needs to get back with its roots.”