With the UFC announcing their plans for something of a middleweight extravaganza at UFC 230 in New York, the stage seemed set for an exciting night of 185lb fights, highlighted by a tantalising rematch between former foes Luke Rockhold (16-4-0) and Chris Weidman (14-3-0).
If the prospect of seeing the two former champions square off once again had you feeling excited for UFC 230, you might want to sit down for a moment.
Speaking to MMAJunkie yesterday, Rockhold confirmed that he’s yet to sign a contract to face Weidman and unless the UFC deliver the right offer, he doesn’t see any reason to accept the fight.
“No pen to paper,” Rockhold said. “Of course it’s intriguing. Madison Square Garden vs. Weidman – (I’m Number two, he’s Number three. It’s a pretty clear-cut fight. You go out there and do the job at Madison Square … it’s fun, it’s sexy.”
“You’ve got to show me the right contract. I don’t need to do anything. Business is good. We’re doing business everywhere. I’ve got a lot of things going on. When you show me the right contract, I’ll sign the right contract.”
While the former middleweight champion claims he has plenty more to offer in the octagon, he’s fortunate to be in a position where he doesn’t need to fight to pay the bills. Between his somewhat notorious modelling deal with Ralph Lauren and various other business ventures away from the sport, it’ll take the right offer to draw him back into competition.
“I love fighting,” Rockhold added. “I’m nowhere near done fighting. But it’s got to make sense. I’m not going to take off time and lose money to go fight. I love what I do and I know I have a lot more to give in this sport. But these people need to get their contracts straight. They need to get their priorities straight with what they want and where they want to go. I know what I want. Everything is good. I’m not going to lose money fighting. I’m doing very well outside the cage.”
Should the UFC present the right contract to Rockhold, it would not necessarily need to be for a fight at 185lb. The 33-year-old has made no secret of his interest in stepping up to light heavyweight to escape the draining weight cuts he has to endure to reach the middleweight limit. The only complication standing in his way is the status of long time friend and team mate Daniel Cormier. DC currently holds both the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight titles.
While there is little doubt we will see Rockhold at 205lbs in the near future, it seems likely that he will hold off on making the move until after Cormier’s retirement next year.
“Nothing’s official,” Rockhold said. “I like it. I like the light heavyweight division – I think it’s for the taking – it’s just ‘DC’ and the complications with him. He’s tossing and turning and I just want the thing to really solidify himself and iron it out. I want a match-up. I want a sexy match-up. I want to get up there and do some damage and make it mean something. I don’t want to fight the best guy in the division in Alexander Gustafsson and then have to backtrack if DC doesn’t fight, have to fight someone else lower for a potential title shot. What’s the f-cking point?”
Cormier’s imminent retirement isn’t the only change to the light heavyweight division on Rockhold’s mind. There is also the rumoured return of former 205lb king Jon Jones to consider. The prospect of AKA nemesis Jones returning from yet another USADA enforced suspension isn’t something which sits well with the former champ.
“This sport is starting to get a little jokey,” Rockhold added. “I’m just sick of watching Brock [Lesnar], watching Jon – when you get down to real business, these guys should be suspended for a long time. People are learning how to cheat the system. USADA is owned by the UFC.”
“I like fighting clean. I’ve always fought clean, and I want to fight clean people. I want to fight fair. I want a fair playing field. USADA’s got to step their game up and be what they were in the beginning. In the beginning, it seemed like they were doing their job. Now it seems like they’re owned. It’s sad to see, but hopefully it can correct itself and we can get on the right path. I’m sick of it all, but I love it all at the same time.”