The Luke Rockhold story took another shift today. What appeared to previously be a story about a fighter who had to withdraw because of injury is now a story about a fighter who never agreed to a fight at all.
Let’s rewind a second.
Rockhold, a Santa Cruz native who is the Strikeforce middleweight champion, was expected to square off against Lorenz Larkin on Nov. 3. But he was forced to pull out because of a wrist injury in the weeks leading up to the event at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Strikeforce cancelled the event — its second cancelled event in a row — after the injuries to Rockhold and others.
Later, the promotion annouced a Jan. 12 event, again scheduled for OKC. One of the fights was Rockhold-Larkin. Side story: It was also rumored that the Jan. 12 event would be Strikeforce’s last, and the promotion would dissolve, although Strikeforce has never confirmed as much.
On Saturday, The MMA Corner reported Rockhold had withdrawn from his bout with Larkin due to injury.
On Monday, the Strikeforce champ went on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. Rockhold said he can’t train properly for the fight due to his wrist, which he feels needs upwards of another month to fully heal.
“I have a ligament issue with my wrist. Ligaments take a long time to heal,” Rockhold said on The MMA Hour.
“These things just don’t heal like you necessarily want them to,” he added.
Rockhold mentioned lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez suffering through a similar ordeal. Melendez recently backed out of his Jan. 12 fight against Pat Healy — reportedly still sidelined with the shoulder injury that forced him to back out of his fight with Healy on Sept. 29.
“I’ve been sparring one-handed,” Rockhold said on The MMA Hour. “I’m doing everything I can. It’s just the date’s not working out. I understand Strikeforce wants to put on this last final card. Obviously, Gilbert is supposed to be on there, too. I think it’s just a little premature for both of us.”
The initial announcement of Rockhold’s withdrawal drew some ire from mixed-martial arts fans, as well as Larkin, who took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the middleweight champ.
“I’m trying to do what I can. I’d fight Lorenz Larkin any day. Trust me. In my mind, that’s easy money,” Rockhold said on The MMA Hour. “I want to fight. I’m not trying to push my way into the UFC like this. I want money. I’m watching my bank account go down and I want to build it back up. As soon as I can, I want to start fighting.”
Today, on Tuesday, Rockhold told MMAjunkie.com that he never signed a bout agreement to fight Larkin.
He told fighthubtv.com:
“I never saw a bout agreement, nothing came over to me and I did not sign anything for that fight in January… I think Strikeforce got a little excited over there and starting promoting something that was never even signed on.”
He went on to say:
“I tried to train in my cast and I could feel it moving and knew it would not work; when I got the cast removed and just doing things like driving my car it was hurting. So why am I going to train for a fight, defending my title, one-handed? As soon as I heard this online about January, I knew I would not be ready for it and tried calling Zuffa and Strikeforce to notify them and you have seen what happens online – people believe the rumors they want but that is all they are – Rumors. I am telling you why I am not fighting in January.”
So that’s where we stand.
Although I haven’t spoken with Rockhold yet, it seems like he made efforts to train for his fight with Larkin, but couldn’t because of the lingering injury. Now he’s being attacked by Larkin and others on Twitter for “ducking” the fighter, so he mentions he never even signed a contract in the first place.
Interesting stuff. Weird that Strikeforce would promote a fight without getting its middleweight champion signed, but interesting nonetheless.
One other note from The MMA Hour:
Rockhold said he’s heard the rumors of Strikeforce going under following the Jan. 12 event, but nothing more. He’s trying to remain even-keel as a result, although he admits joining the UFC ranks is an “exciting thought.”
“But it’s hard to get your hopes up; I’ve done it before,” he added. “And I’ll be ready to throw down when the times comes.
“If they want me to enter the UFC fighting Lorenz Larkin, I’d love to.”