The last several months have seen a serious uptick in the amount of fighters pushing back against the UFC for their hardball negotiation tactics. Luke Rockhold is now the latest of the bunch, as he recently detailed some of the unfair ways he has been treated by the promotion and Dana White.
Things have been far from easy for Rockhold, since he lost his middleweight strap. He has gone 1-3 across two different weight classes since 2016, with each of those losses coming by way of knockout, leaving him contemplating retirement.
Now he has walked back that decision, and has instead started calling for some big opponents in his return to the Octagon. However, there has been no word from the promotion about who he will fight, or when that may take place.
The Struggles Of Negotiations
It seems that part of the reason for the delay in Luke Rockhold returning to the Octagon comes down to a matter of fight negotiations. He is joining the increasingly long ranks of fighters who are having issues getting deals done with the UFC.
We all know that for a time, Luke was working as a model for Ralph Lauren. However, he explained in a recent episode of BroBible’s “Rippin’ It” podcast that this was because he was not making the type of cash that he needed, and could not get the UFC to budge on his contract.
“Modeling’s modeling. The only reason I modeled in the first place is because fighting is like a mafia. They have these very mafioso-type tactics in negotiations. They try to f*ck with you. I’m not having any of it,” Rockhold said. (h/t MMAJunkie)
“If you don’t know your worth, someone will tell you your worth and it’ll be less than your worth. So know your worth, and leverage yourself, too.”
Furthermore, Rockhold said that things only got worse after he lost the title. He said that Dana White tried to play hardball with him, but he would not allow it.
This is what led to him getting into the field of modeling, so that he could find a way to have leverage and make more money. Apparently this worked too, as he claims Dana backed off following this new gig.
“Once I lost the world title, Dana White came up to me and tried to beat me down mentally, and I was like, ‘F*ck you’ – straight up,” Rockhold said.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to go do my own thing. If you’re going to try and offer me this and that bullsh*t, you know who I am and you know what I did.’ That’s the only reason I went out and got a modeling contract – so I could leverage myself.
“So I went back and within a year I got the fragrance (deal) with Ralph Lauren. Then you’ve got Dana and them calling back to me like, ‘Hey Luke. What do you want to do? Can you fight here? Do you want this amount of money? Do you want that?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s right, motherf*cker!’”
Luke Rockhold Puts Dana White On Notice
Luke Rockhold did not stop his criticisms of Dana White there. He then went on to say that the UFC President was the brunt of the reason why things were so difficult when it came time to negotiate contracts.
He event went as far as to suggest that the fighters need some sort of governing body (a union perhaps?) to regulate negotiations. Luke says that because they are not held accountable for the way they act, the UFC has the power to do almost anything they want.
“We don’t have the governing body. That’s another problem, too. We’ve got an egotistical guy that’s a bit of a tyrant,” Rockhold said. No one is going to try and fight you. You’ve got to put your f*cking ass on the line, stand your ground (and) take risks. Otherwise, you get treated like a b*tch.
“It’s unfortunate, a guy like (White). He thinks he can fight. He thinks he’s a fighter. I don’t know why he’s trying to belittle all the fighters when you’ve never fought a day in your life. You’re a promoter. We need a governing body to really give people what they deserve, because he doesn’t play the game right.”
The fact of the matter is, Luke Rockhold is not the first person to offer these types of critiques of the UFC’s negotiation tactics. There was even a brief period where horror stories were told about the former matchmaker, Joe Silva.
At the end of the day though, he is right in the fact that the fighters, as a whole, have no power against the promotion. Perhaps things like the looming Ali Act will change that, but for now this is the situation they are in.