Prior to UFC 278, former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold had many critical things to say about the promotion.
A disgruntled former middleweight champion picked up the microphone in Salt Lake City to broadcast a list of grievances about how things stand in the UFC today. Rockhold hit on everything from fighter pay to night bonus structure and more. A key point that stuck with UFC President Dana White was his perception of health care for fighters.
“These guys don’t know what they’re doing, and they’re letting Dana run the show and suppress the sport,” Rockhold told reporters, including MMA Junkie on Wednesday’s media day. “They have to grow. This whole damn thing has to grow together. Our lives are on the damn line. Care must be taken care of. Our damn health needs to be taken care of. I have not been taken care of.”
White heard Rockhold’s comments and objected to his claim. Furthermore, the UFC boss explained that the promotion has been working on long-term health care for its fighters when their days of fighting in the octagon are over.
“That’s something we’ve been working on from day one,” White told TSN. “While they’re fighting here, these guys are well taken care of, and so is Luke Rockhold.”
The former champion has faced a number of health issues throughout his career. Prior to UFC 199, Rockhold admitted to training with a torn MCL. He went on to compete anyway and lost to Michael Bisping. After the fight, his knee deteriorated and he had a stem cell procedure, which ultimately led to the cancellation of the UFC Fight Night 101 main event against Ronaldo Souza.
Rockhold would make it to the cage in early 2018 to beat Yoel Romero for the vacant interim middleweight title. However, a few months later, a “nightmare” injury occurred to his surgically repaired leg, forcing him to withdraw from his UFC 230 bout against Chris Weidman.
Rockhold’s attempt to return to action in 2021 was halted when he was forced out of the UFC 268 game against Sean Stickland due to a herniated L4 and L5 disc in his back. According to White, during all of his troubles, he didn’t have to worry about his health care.
“Luke Rockhold was cared for above and beyond with the issues he had here,” said White. “I don’t care what health insurance you have, they would never have covered the things we covered for Luke Rockhold when he went through his stuff. Everything he said was absolute damn gibberish and absolute nonsense.”
While White can’t provide a timeline for achieving the goal of providing long-term health care, he insists this has been a focus for the promotion since he became president 21 years ago.
“Everyone who fights here gets incredible health care,” White said. “Incredible healthcare. I mean, we don’t even screw people up at regular doctors. If it’s bad enough, we’ll send them to plastic surgeons to have them stitched up.”
Rockhold returns to action at UFC 278, taking on Paulo Costa in the co-main event at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.
To learn more about the map, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 278.
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