Luke Rockhold is accusing Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman of failing to stand up for their fellow champion, Francis Ngannou, amid the heavyweight’s tensions (details here) with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White.
Rockhold has refused to bite his tongue on issues of fighter pay and fighter rights in the build to his fight against Sean Strickland, which will take place at UFC 268: “Usman vs. Covington 2” inside Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Nov. 6m, 2021, streaming online via ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV).
“No one has enough balls,” Rockhold told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting). “No one has enough cajones. That’s the problem. Not enough to [make a difference]. There’s very few people that have the f—king balls, but to get the right amount of people together to do that thing, it would never happen. Not in any foreseeable future. [The UFC] gives out enough to make everyone come back for more. You know what I mean? And then someone f—king sparks up a conversation and they get shelved until they run out of money and they want to come back, and they have to do what they have to do, and they have to take the paycheck they have to take. This is the game they play.”
Ngannou and his management have had public disputes with White over how UFC brass treated “The Predator,” and Rockhold believes that was the perfect time for fellow champions, Adesanya and Usman, to rally.
“If they’re going to do that to Francis and then no one else [speaks up], his two brothers aren’t going to get behind him and sack up and be the men they should’ve been when he got shelved — you’ve got two Nigerian brothers, they’re champions, they should’ve just stood by him and been men, and maybe that could change the landscape,” Rockhold said. “But that’s about it. I saw an opportunity there. That’s when I saw an opportunity. Other than that, you need 25 [big-name] guys. Twenty-five guys aren’t coming together. Maybe more, I don’t know, maybe less. Maybe give or take. That sh*t ain’t going to happen.
“That was the only thing that I saw that actually could’ve leveled the playing field and changed things for the better,” he added. “When you f—k with Francis and you’ve got this three amigos Nigerian brotherhood, if those two would’ve stood up, they could’ve f—ked. They could’ve f—ked deep and hard. But, the two didn’t step up.”
Fun fact, Ngannou is from Cameroon and not Nigeria.
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