Luke Rockhold Thinks UFC Champions Could Do More on Fighter Pay

Luke Rockhold
© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Add former UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, to the list of UFC fighters who have made their opinions known about the controversial issue regarding UFC fighter pay.

Rockhold is in the middle of training camp as he gets ready to face Sean Strickland at UFC 268, in the former middleweight champion’s return to 185 pounds and his first fight in a little over two years. Rockhold last competed in a one-bout run at light heavyweight, getting knocked out by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239.

Many UFC fighters around the promotion, including Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou, have made their voices heard when it comes to the ongoing issue of fighter pay. This comes after former MMA fighters such as Tyron Woodley and Vitor Belfort have earned an eye-popping fortune for fighting in the boxing ring.

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Despite more fighters getting involved in the conversation by the day, Rockhold feels those at the top of the sport need to lead the fight if any form of change is possible.

“No one has enough balls,” Rockhold said in an interview with Ariel Helwani. “That’s the problem. Not enough to [make a difference]. There are very few people that have the fucking balls, but to get the right amount of people together to do that thing, it would never happen. Not in any foreseeable future.”

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“If they’re going to do that to Francis and then no one else [speaks up], his two brothers (Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya) aren’t going to get behind him and sack up and be the men they should’ve been when he got shelved — you’ve got two Nigerian brothers, they should’ve just stood by him and been men, and maybe that could change the landscape.” 

Just five months after Francis Ngannou earned the heavyweight belt, the UFC opted for an interim title bout between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis. This allegedly stemmed from dormant contract negotiations between Ngannou and the UFC brass. Rockhold thinks that moment was a clear example of the severity of the issue at hand.

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As Rockhold and many others continue to speak up on the fighter pay issue in the UFC, it appears that UFC president Dana White and the upper class of the sport don’t feel that anything is wrong with compensation.

What are your thoughts on Luke Rockhold’s comments regarding UFC fighter pay?

Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.