The rivalry between Rockhold and Strickland was a fairly big story in 2021. Even before they were scheduled to fight at UFC 268, the pair were going back and forth in interviews and on social media.
From Strickland’s long list of potential places he’d scrap his fellow Californian in public to Rockhold claiming he’d put “Tarzan” back in a trailer park “where he belongs,” tensions were high ahead of the November pay-per-view.
Unfortunately, a herniated disc forced Rockhold to withdraw from his comeback fight, and the chance to settle scores with Strickland fell through. But if anyone thought that’d be the end of the feud, they were sorely mistaken.
Having already accused the #4-ranked middleweight of drug usage earlier this year, which he believes explains Strickland’s controversial remarks, Rockhold’s latest comments saw him brand the 31-year-old as a ‘pedophile supporter’.
Given Strickland’s recent social media investigation into Pat Barry’s relationship with Rose Namajunas, Rockhold’s attack seemingly comes out of nowhere.
“(Strickland) is out there supporting pedophiles,” Rockhold said on The DC Check-In. “Piece of crap. The guy needs to be written off.”
Even without provocation, Strickland isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Unsurprisingly, Rockhold’s words drew a lengthy response…
Strickland Fires Back At Rockhold
Taking to Instagram Stories, Strickland addressed Rockhold’s remarks. After dropping in his claim of once knocking the former champion out in training, “Tarzan” sought to explain the veteran’s latest insult.
After brutal knockout losses to Michael Bisping, Yoel Romero, and Jan Blachowicz across the past six years, Strickland suggested that Rockhold is suffering from CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy). With that in mind, the Anaheim native sent the 37-year-old some retirement advice.
“How much brain damage has this man taken? … So whenever Luke Rockhold first started running his mouth about me, it made me upset because a lot of what he was saying was untrue. We trained, I almost knocked him out, there were witnesses. And this whole supporting pedophiles thing… he’s almost like detached from reality.
“Then I’m starting to realize, the guy is 40 years old and he’s been knocked out how many times? I mean, viciously knocked out. Probably has severe brain damage, maybe some CTE. I don’t know man, maybe it’s time to hang up the gloves for good.” (h/t MiddleEasy)
But while Strickland thinks it’s the end of the road for Rockhold, the man himself sees things differently and is preparing for another run for the title. The Santa Cruz-born star is preparing to finally make his return against Paulo Costa on August 20.
Should Rockhold emerge victorious over “Borrachinha,” he’ll jump straight back into the top five at 185 pounds, and perhaps bring another booking opposite Strickland closer to reality.