Luke Rockhold rips UFC's matchmaking: 'This isn't WWE, this is fighting'

There have been more than a few outspoken critics of late regarding the UFC’s decision making, which has included multiple interim title fights being added and matchmaking that ignores its own rankings system. 

Add former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold to that group after being asked about the division during Wednesday’s appearance on “UFC Tonight.” 

Rockhold (15-3) lost his title by upset knockout last June against late replacement Michael Bisping in their rematch. Like many, he’s unhappy that Bisping was given a series of questionable title defenses, from a rematch against 46-year-old Dan Henderson last year to an upcoming bout against returning former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

“It’s chaos, isn’t it? I think [UFC] is running down a slippery slope,” Rockhold said. “I think things could easily get out of hand. You never know what these guys are going to do. Georges isn’t going to fight anybody in the top five of our division if he wins this fight. Bisping could potentially be in the same boat. 

“I’m bummed they took this route, it has kind of taken away from the sport. The heart of the sport is about the top guys fighting each other. This isn’t WWE, this is fighting. That’s what it’s all about. When they make moves like this, it definitely makes you question what things about what your’e doing and how you approach things.”

Last November, Rockhold pulled out of a scheduled rematch against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in Australia because of a knee injury. With the division now in tumult as he recovers and fellow top contenders like Yoel Romero and Souza on the outside looking in, Rockhold has turned to modeling to stay busy and make money. 

“You only have so much time in this game so I’m looking at every avenue that I can,” Rockhold said. “I tore my ACL 50 percent. It is what it is, I can’t kick. I’m not going to go into a fight without being able to kick. It’s one of my premier weapons.”

If Rockhold is unable to get a middleweight title fight, he has one more creative idea: move up two weight classes to challenge former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. No, he wasn’t kidding. 

“Everyone’s steaming over this new fight I brought up. I think me and Werdum got some old beef from Strikeforce,” Rockhold said. “He’s a guy I’ve always wanted to fight. I’ve thought it through and I like the style matchup. Given what’s going on in the middleweight division right now, screw that, I’m coming to heavyweight. Let’s do this.”

Asked about the comments, Werdum appeared to instantly squash the idea during an interview Thursday with MMAFighting.com

“I only fight people, I don’t fight chickens,” Werdum said. “He’s just promoting himself because he knows nobody is talking about him. I’m one step away from the belt. Why would I fight a chicken?”

In the meantime, Rockhold is willing to fight Romero as long as there is something tangible at stake. 

“I know Yoel is out there. I don’t know what his program is exactly [but] he’s waiting,” Rockhold said. “If they want to put a real belt on the line, I’d gladly go fight Yoel for it but I want security. If I fight a top guy, I want to know my next fight is to unify the title and get that thing going. I’m not here to dance around, I’m here to fight for titles and championship money.” 

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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