Luke Rockhold and Dana White appear to have an increasingly frosty relationship judging by recent public statements from the pair.
There’s been tension between the two for some time, largely stemming from Rockhold’s frustration that the top end of the UFC’s middleweight division had been held up indefinitely due to the fact they were pursuing a fight between current champion Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre.
As a former champion himself, Rockhold had become so frustrated with the situation that in an interview earlier this month on ‘The MMA Hour’ radio show he went as far as suggesting that the top fighters in the division go on strike in protest.
“If they’re not putting an interim title on the line, or if they’re not making Bisping fight a contender, I’m not fighting anybody,” Bisping told Ariel Helwani on May 8th. “And so should the rest of the division, too. What’s the point? Without me, Mousasi, Yoel, and Whittaker? I think everyone should just stand their ground, and say f*ck you. Put a title on the line or else, f*ck, you don’t even have a division.”
The UFC have since ditched their plans for Bisping Vs GSP after the Canadian superstar revealed he wouldn’t be ready to fight until November, and so a fight between Bisping and Yoel Romero is now expected to take place in the summer.
That should have helped smooth over some of Rockhold’s concerns, and indeed just a few days he indicated that he was now ready to get back into the Octagon, targeting a fight with another of the leading contenders in the division, Gegard Mousasi for this summer.
However, just when some sunshine was appearing from behind the clouds, White breathed new life into their feud by dismissing the fighter’s own title contention hopes.
“Listen, I was thinking about this when I talked to some of the media here yesterday,” White told reporters at the UFC 211 post-fight presser. “There was a lot of guys talking about ‘deserve, deserve.’ Nobody deserves anything. You’ve got to earn it here. It’s like these guys want to sit around — you’ve got Rockhold right now screaming ‘I deserve this.’ You just got knocked out in the first round. You don’t deserve anything. You’ve got to come back and earn it.”
Rockhold hasn’t taken too kindly to that and ripped into White yesterday on Twitter.
“@danawhite I never said I deserved a title shot. I said we (middleweights) deserve clarity. We deserve something to fight for.
“@danawhite “You have to earn your way in this company”? Tell me how did GSP earn a middleweight title shot? Think before you run your mouth.”
Rockhold was on a five-fight winning streak prior to losing his title to Bisping last year – and in fact that unbeaten run had included a convincing submission win over the aforementioned Brit.
With that in mind, Rockhold should be right on the verge of another title shot if he can pick up a win next time out, but due to his growing animosity with the UFC president it remains to be seen whether that will be the case.