Last week, Luke Rockhold made waves by blasting the UFC over fighter pay, referring to an offer the organization made him as “bullsh*t.” Just days later, however, it was announced that former middleweight champion would be returning to action against Brazilian contender Ronald “Jacare” Souza. The two top middleweights will headline the UFC’s return to Melbourne, Australia on November 27.
Obviously, the booking of this fight suggests that the UFC opened up their wallets and made Rockhold an offer that he found more reasonable. On this week’s episode of the Extra Rounds podcast, Rockhold confirmed this, and gave a bit more information on his recent remuneration-related gripes.
“I signed my [last] contract with the UFC back before I fought Machida,” Rockhold said on the show. “I had confidence in myself to win the title and I thought that I’d find myself in a better situation but the contract fell back, before I was able to restructure it, to a place where I wasn’t really happy with it. Seeing what it fell back to and knowing what I’ve accomplished and my credibility in the sport, I wasn’t happy with what they were offering. It’s gonna take more than that to get me to fight. I’ve got other avenues outside the sport, and I’m not gonna go fight when it’s not worth it. I gotta get my due, I’ve gotta get my worth. No matter how much I love to fight, and what I’m doing out here, I need to get f*cking paid.”
“They restructured the deal for the time being, and so we got a new contract. We got a new contract upping the money, and we got the right fight so I think this will be the best fight for me right now to get me back to the title.”
Rockhold is the latest in a long parade of fighters – including Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Joanne Calderwood, and Rory MacDonald – to recently protest fighter pay. According to Rockhold, this trend is likely to continue, as more fighters continue to demand what they feel they’re worth.
“I think we’re in a transition period,” Rockhold said. “I think there’s definitely positive change in the sport and people are starting to realize it’s about leverage in the right situation and understanding your worth… These guys are trying to keep you down on these paychecks, keep you hungry, keep you needing more.”
Do you think it’s important for fighters to demand their worth from the UFC? Sound off, PENN nation!