Ahead of UFC 278, former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold had many critical things to say about promotion.
A disgruntled former middleweight champion took the mic in Salt Lake City to spread a list of complaints about how things are going in the UFC today. Rockhold has nailed everything from how fighters are paid to the fight night bonus structure and more. A key point that stuck with UFC President Dana White was his perception of fighter health care.
“These guys don’t know what they’re doing and they just let Dana run the show and suppress the sport,” Rockhold told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Wednesday’s media day. “You have to grow. This whole damn thing needs to grow together. Our lives are at stake. Health care needs to be taken care of. Our damn health needs attention. Mine has not been maintained.”
White heard Rockhold’s comments and took issue with his claim. Additionally, the UFC chief explained that the promotion has worked on their fighters’ long-term health care once their days in the octagon are over.
“We’ve been working on that since day one,” White told TSN. “While they’re fighting here, these guys are being very well taken care of, and so is Luke Rockhold.”
The former champion has dealt with a number of health issues throughout his career. Ahead of UFC 199, Rockhold admitted he was training with a cruciate ligament tear. He competed anyway and lost to Michael Bisping. After the fight, his knee deteriorated and a stem cell procedure was performed, ultimately resulting in a fight cancellation of the UFC Fight Night 101 Main Event against Ronaldo Souza.
Rockhold made it into the cage in early 2018 to face off against Yoel Romero for the vacant interim middleweight title. A few months later, however, a “nightmare” injury occurred to his surgically repaired leg, forcing him to withdraw from his UFC 230 fight against Chris Weidmann.
Rockhold’s attempt to return to action in 2021 was halted when he was forced out of the UFC 268 fight against Sean Stickland due to herniated L4 and L5 discs in his back. According to White, throughout all of his troubles, he didn’t have to worry about his health.
“Luke Rockhold has handled all of the issues that he’s had here,” White said. “I don’t give a shit what health insurance plan you have, they would never have covered the things we covered for Luke Rockhold when he was going through his stuff. Everything he said was absolute gibberish and absolute nonsense.”
While White has no timeline for meeting the goal of providing long-term health care, he maintains that it has been a focus for promotion since he became president 21 years ago.
“Everyone who fights here gets incredible medical care,” White said. “Incredible healthcare. I mean, we don’t even sew people up with regular doctors. If it’s bad enough, we’ll send them to plastic surgeons for stitches.”
Rockhold returns at UFC 278 to face Paulo Costa in the co-main event at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.
Visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 278 for more information on the card.