Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold ended his UFC career the way he started it, on his own terms.
Rockhold returned to the Octagon at UFC 278 in August after nearly three years old the shelf. In his long-awaited return, the former UFC and Strikeforce champion faced top-ranked middleweight contender Paulo Costa. After months of back-and-forth between the two, their clash inside the cage did not disappoint. The two warriors delivered a fight equally bizarre as it was brutal. By the end, even fans were feeling the exhaustion that the two exhibited inside the Octagon.
Following the fight, UFC President Dana White showed respect for Luke Rockhold, saying that he will “never say anything” negative about the 37-year-old scrapper ever again.
During an interview with MMA Junkie, Rockhold shared his appreciation for the respect Dana White finally showed him after years of tension between the two.
“It definitely felt good to get that respect I felt I always deserved, but I guess you’ve got to get dirty and nasty sometimes to show people who the f*ck you are,” Rockhold said. “People want to assume I’m this, people want to assume I’m that. I’m sure the Polo [modeling] deal didn’t help — people just hated me even more. But that was the thing with Dana in the first place. He disrespected me when I lost the title and said, ‘You ain’t sh*t. You weren’t this, you weren’t that.’ I’m like, ‘F*ck you, dude. I’ll go make my money elsewhere.’
Luke Rockhold Went From UFC Champion to Globally Recognized Fashion Model
Challenged by UFC President Dana White to look for other sources of revenue, Luke Rockhold did exactly that, becoming the face of the popular clothing line Polo Ralph Lauren.
“He’s like, ‘F*ck, fine, go do it,’ and guess what? I became the face of Polo Ralph Lauren, I had a worldwide commercial, I had [my face in] every airport in the world, and then Dana and the UFC were like, ‘Oh, can we give you this? Can we give you that?’ I did it so I could have leverage and respect. That’s why I did that. That was the whole point of that situation, and I got some back. But then I got a lot of disrespect from it because the whole world is just naive and they paint the picture for what they want the world to believe.”
Walking away from the Octagon following his loss at UFC 278, Luke Rockhold finishes his mixed martial arts career with a record of 16-6-0 with notable wins over Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, Michael Bisping, Lyoto Machida, and Chris Weidman. Rockhold dropped four of his last five bouts but did leave the door open for a potential return to combat sports should something enticing come along.