Luke Rockhold will be out to prove a point tonight (Sat., April 29, 2023) at BKFC 41 live on FITE.TV pay-per-view (PPV) from inside 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo., as the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight king makes his first appearance since leaving UFC behind earlier this year. It will be Rockhold’s chance to prove he made the right choice in free agency.
From Strikeforce champion to UFC titleholder, Rockhold has been around mixed martial arts (MMA) for a very long time. The 38-year-old was one of the best fighters on the UFC roster from 2014-2017 and competed against every top 185-pound contender in the game. He had carved out a nice little nook to call his own, but differences with UFC ultimately pushed Rockhold out the door.
“Being locked in with them, and what they were offering, and what was on the table, and having to work back through their ranks on their terms, I didn’t want to do that,” Rockhold said on The Fighter vs. The Writer (via MMA Fighting). “That’s not fun for me. I’ve already been there. I’ve been the UFC champion. I’ve been the Strikeforce champion. What’s f****** next?
“I want new goals. I want new challenges. You never know. As long as my body’s going in the direction it’s going now, anything can happen. I could go back there as long as it was on my terms. But conquering another world right now is what I’m looking for. More mountains to climb, more things to do. This is what I’m f—king here for. I like fighting. Fighting f—king gives me life.”
After hitting free agency in early 2023 Rockhold found a new home with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC). It wasn’t the most likely landing spot for the former middleweight champion of the world, but it allowed Rockhold to get the contract he was looking for on his own terms.
“I was locked into a contract, many different contracts,” he said. “It’s just one contract to the next, but there’s always long-term deals, and it’s not always the best energy, the best setting when you’re fighting [and] when you’re at odds with each other. You’re fighting on their terms and their paycheck. So being a free agent, it’s a different story. Being your own promotion. Being able to fight on your own terms and pick your paychecks, pick your fights. Like it should be, like the fight game is.
“If you’re at the top of the game, you should be able to pick where you work together with a promoter to find the opponent, to find the paycheck that you want, that makes you happy, that makes you want to fight. Then you’re going to get the best fighters, the best fight from that fighter. That’s what fighting is. Not being f—king enslaved to a company and fighting on their terms, who they want, for what they want. F—k that. I’m thankful for [UFC Chief Business Officer] Hunter Campbell letting me go and doing my thing, but the structure, it’s not the best.”
Now that Rockhold is no longer under UFC control he’s able to look back at his time with the promotion and what he takes away from his departure. Rockhold believes he made the right choice even if it wasn’t the most popular one. He has even grown support for Francis Ngannou and the heavyweight’s decision to leave a UFC contract behind.
“I’m f—king stoked for Francis,” Rockhold said. “Francis, he’s a real man with f—king balls and he can make a decision. There’s too many yes men in the world. The UFC is where it is today because all those motherf—king are yes men, and they’re just playing their game so the UFC is going to keep playing their game and keep controlling the fighters.
“If there wasn’t as many yes men, if there were more Francis Ngannous and Luke Rockholds and people that had a f—king pair of balls, we’d have an even f—king playing field, but there’s too many b—ches in the world.”
Rockhold won’t have to worry about a UFC contract or fighting inside of the Octagon later tonight at BKFC 41, but he will have his hands full with madman, Mike Perry, in the main event. It will be Rockhold’s bare knuckle boxing debut and his chance to cash in on his new contract.
For the complete BKFC 41 fight card click here. For more BKFC news and notes go here.