Among the many opportunities available to Luke Rockhold in free agency is the chance to win one for MMA against Jake Paul.
Rockhold has watched Paul pick off colleague after colleague, beating Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley (twice), and most recently Anderson Silva. He’d love to knock out the YouTuber turned boxer.
“I mean, it’d be fun,” Rockhold said on The MMA Hour. “It’d be fun to correct that situation, him or his brother. Or both. They’re into spectacle, they’re YouTube kids, whatever. But they both want to legitimize themselves, but they’re both fighting little f****** guys.
“Jake fights a welterweight with no hands, and he barely gets through that. Then he fights Tyron Woodley, a welterweight with one hand, and Tyron’s my boy, but with all due respect, he doesn’t pull the trigger any more. And I’ll pull the trigger, and I’ll hit my f****** mark. I’m a middleweight. I’m a real f****** man, at your weight, straight up. And Logan [Paul], too.”
News recently broke about the re-re-booking of a boxing match with Tommy Fury, the half-brother of heavyweight boxing champ Tyson Fury, for Feb. 25 in Saudi Arabia. Paul also has announced his intention to fight in MMA with the tournament-based PFL, in which he and his promoting partner Nakisa Bidarian have invested.
Rockhold believes in fresh starts — he’s open to trying his hand in the squared circle after a lifetime of competing in MMA. But he doesn’t believe Paul will ever set foot in the cage.
“He says he wants to fight MMA, which is bulls***,” Rockhold said. “Now, he’s fighting Tommy Fury? Come the f*** on. Tommy Fury, he’s about as much of a boxer as I am a cricket player. F****** bulls***. This kid wants to legitimize himself and fights Anderson Silva, his old ass, a senior citizen? I don’t know who won that fight. Do you? Could you really say he actually won that fight?
“I’d put Tommy Fury to sleep in one round. I’ve boxed Andrew Tabiti back in the day when I was barefoot going into Floyd [Mayweather]’s gym. Barefoot and I could barely box at all. I know what I’m capable of. I’ve been in with a lot of people who can throw hands.”
This past August at UFC 278, Rockhold lost a decision to Paulo Costa in his first UFC appearance after a three-year layoff. He struggled mightily with a broken nose suffered in the first round and seemed seconds away from collapsing due to exhaustion in the altitude of the fight’s host of Salt Lake City. Afterward, he said he requested his release from the UFC and was granted it with several bouts remaining on his contract.
Rockhold wasn’t inspired by his potential future in the UFC and decided to try his luck elsewhere. He doubts that Paul’s interest in MMA is more than an attention-grabbing stunt.
“I just don’t think he really wants it,” Rockhold said. “It’s all a spectacle. You want to go be a boxer, then you want to go box Tommy Fury? Graduate up. You’re fighting welterweights. You’re fighting smaller guys. It’s a show. If you want to put on a show, I’ll fight both of those kids in the same night. I’ll fight them round to round, whatever you want to do.
“But I want to do everything else. I want to fight in some leagues and some guys that get me going. Where I was in the UFC, who was going to get me excited? The only guy that really gets me excited in the UFC would have been like an Israel [Adesanya], a Robert Whittaker, or [Alex] Pereira, and I have to work my way back through that again, and for what it’s worth, it’s not really worth my time. I need something new. I need to be interested. I like freedom, just like Francis [Ngannou], just like Nate [Diaz].