Champ Robert Whittaker and UFC 221 opponent Luke Rockhold discuss GSP's departure

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Georges St-Pierre is out of the UFC middleweight title picture, and UFC 221’s headliners are ready to move on without him.

After St-Pierre, a longtime welterweight titleholder, returned to the UFC after a four-year layoff, he scored a submission win to dethrone middleweight champion Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) in November. However, St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) recently vacated the belt after facing an uncertain future due to his diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.

That opened the door for interim titleholder Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) to be promoted to undisputed champion, and he now meets former titleholder Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in UFC 221’s pay-per-view headliner, which takes place Feb. 10 at Perth Arena in Perth and marks the UFC’s debut in Western Australia.

Whittaker initially was targeted for a title-unification bout with St-Pierre, but the 26-year-old New Zealand-born Australian never really counted on the fight.

“With the UFC, anything can happen, really,” Whittaker, who won the vacant belt with a July victory over Yoel Romero, today said. “There was no clear-cut matchup for me at any point in the last six months. So I’m just happy to have closure.

“I’m just happy to know Georges has stepped down, I’ve taken the title, and I’m going to defend it come February against Luke. So yeah, it’s just good to know what we’re doing. I’m a very objective-drive bloke, so to have a goal in mind and to have something to do is very important to me.”

Whittaker, who was part of today’s UFC 221 kickoff press conference, got a look at his upcoming opponent. He even squared off with Rockhold, which showed the size difference between the two (via Twitter):

Rockhold, a 33-year-old former UFC and Strikeforce champ, rebounded from his title loss to Bisping with a recent submission win over David Branch.

Rockhold, who’s No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, said he always considered No. 2-ranked Whittaker the real champ – even after No. 1-ranked St-Pierre’s return.

“It sucks to see what they’ve done with everything, but I’m just glad we’re back on track,” said Rockhold, who had been critical of Bisping’s title reign, which lasted 17 months and consisted of just one title defense – over Dan Henderson. “Like I said, I said Whittaker has been the true champion for some time now, and I’m excited to get in there and mix it up.

“It’s going to be a fight, man.”

For more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Be 'super pissed' all you want, but Georges St-Pierre doesn't owe us anything

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The Falklands War. Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries. The lifespan of a carton of eggs when properly stored in your refrigerator.

All these things have got Georges St-Pierre’s tenure as UFC middleweight champion beat, at least in terms of longevity.

Just a shade over a month after choking out Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) at UFC 217 to claim the belt, St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) has vacated the 185-pound title that he never seemed too enthusiastic about defending.

The official culprit may be ulcerative colitis, which St-Pierre said he was diagnosed with upon returning from his post-fight vacation, but come on. You didn’t need a crystal ball to know that there was a very good chance GSP might never defend this belt, even if he was healthy enough to do so.

To be fair, he never made us too many promises. Standing in the cage with the blood still damp on his skin, he stressed that he took the fight with Bisping to “challenge” himself. What he didn’t say, right then or in the immediate aftermath, was that he couldn’t wait to get back in there and unify the title with a fight against interim champ Robert Whittaker.

Instead he talked all around it. He told us he didn’t know what he’d do next. He promised not to “freeze” the division with inactivity. Even as UFC President Dana White warned that he’d be “super pissed” if St-Pierre didn’t defend the title, GSP himself remained committed to being noncommittal.

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That is, until this week. Shortly after St-Pierre himself admitted that he probably wouldn’t fight again at 185 pounds, the UFC announced that he had vacated the title, leaving Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) and former champ Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) to battle for the division’s sole championship at UFC 221 in February.

On one hand, good for St-Pierre. Suffering from an illness that might sideline him for months, he went ahead and relinquished the belt so the division could move on without him. When viewed from the right angle, it’s a selfless, classy move by a legendary fighters who’s often proven himself more dignified and reasonable than the company he represented during his years-long reign as UFC welterweight champ.

On the other hand, if ever a case of colitis could be considered convenient, this is it. St-Pierre may have wanted to win the middleweight title, but he never seemed too enthusiastic about being the middleweight champion and shouldering all the burdens and responsibilities that come with it. He may be legitimately very sick, but it also seems to have hit him at a time when he didn’t really want to go to work anyway.

That’s kind of perfect, at least for St-Pierre. How can White be “super pissed” at him now? The man is sick. His health has to come first, does it not?

And if he were to get his colon sorted out just in time to come back for a non-title, mega-money bout against someone like Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) some months down the line, hey, that’s not a master plan in action or anything. It’s just a man being tossed about by the tides of fortune – and ending up looking very, very fortunate.

But what about the middleweights who’ve been left behind? Whittaker’s interim title already seemed pretty legit, based on who he had to beat to get to that point, but now he’ll never even get the chance to dethrone an actual champion.

The entire lineage of the title – the way Anderson Silva begat Chris Weidman, who begat Rockhold, who begat Bisping, who begat St-Pierre – has now been broken. And you can write it off as bad luck, what with the champion getting sick and all, but that excuse doesn’t stand up to closer examination.

If St-Pierre really wanted to wait, get healthy, then defend his title, you know the UFC brass would let him. Seriously, with all the pay-per-views he sells? Of course they would. Just as the heavyweight division waited through Brock Lesnar’s diverticulitis, and just as the lightweight division is still waiting out McGregor’s fame spiral walkabout, so too would middleweight wait for GSP.

But he doesn’t want that. He never really did. Like he told us, he just wanted to challenge himself against Bisping. He also wanted to make a bunch of money and lay his hands on another UFC title just long enough to call himself a two-division champ, and he was smart enough to realize that he’d never get a better chance than this.

So he offered his services and his resiliently bankable name, and the UFC did the math and then took the ride. Everybody got paid and so nobody can get too mad.

Still, it is something of a letdown, in part because of how obvious it was. Weeks before the UFC 217 bout, Rockhold shook his head with disdain and told us, come on, we didn’t really believe that GSP would defend the belt if he won it, did we?

Plenty of us didn’t. It’s at least debatable whether or not the UFC did, or if it even cared to look any further than the next payday.

As for GSP, you’ve got to give him credit. He saw the situation for what it was, and he made it work for him. What’s he supposed to do now, be heartbroken because the same boss who trampled on him four years ago is “super pissed” at him now? Woe be unto the fighter who is not at least as selfish as the people signing his checks. Woe, also, to the fighter who lets his ego talk him into unnecessary risks.

GSP’s always been smarter than that, even when it got him criticized. With this historically short title reign, he reminded us that he’s pretty savvy still.

For more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 221 odds: Early money on Robert Whittaker over Luke Rockhold

Dann StuppMMA fans – well, MMA bettors, anyway – like Robert Whittaker’s chances to beat Luke Rockhold.

As announced on Thursday, middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) has vacated his belt, and an interim titleholder Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) is now slated to fight ex-champ Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) for the vacant middleweight.

Odds have opened for the pay-per-view bout, which takes place Feb. 10 at Perth Arena in Perth, and initially they favored Whittaker.

ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto first reported the opening odds, which had Whittaker as a slight favorite (-125) over -105 Rockhold (via Twitter):

However, initial betting has largely favored Whittaker.

As of this writing, Whittaker, who’s No. 2 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, had been bet all the way up to -195 while No. 3-ranked Rockhold moved to plus money – specifically, +160.

At those odds, a winning $100 bet on Whittaker would result in a net profit of $51.28 (implied win probability of 66.1 percent). A winning $100 bet on Rockhold, meanwhile, would net a profit of $160 (38.5 percent win probability).

Should Whittaker be the pick here? Cast your vote below.

And for more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Take Our Poll
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Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter reacts to Georges St-Pierre vacating title, Robert Whittaker-Luke Rockhold at UFC 221

The UFC’s roster of champions was shaken up Thursday after Georges St-Pierre vacated the middleweight title and Robert Whittaker was promoted from interim to undisputed champion.

St-Pierre’s (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) recent medical issues forced him to give up the strap. As a result, Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) puts his crown on the line against ex-champ Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) on Feb. 10 at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.

Check below to see the top Twitter reactions to today’s big news.

* * * *

Instagram Photo

For more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Georges St-Pierre vacates; Robert Whittaker vs. Luke Rockhold title fight set for UFC 221

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There are no more lingering questions surrounding the UFC middleweight championship.

The promotion announced Thursday night that Georges St-Pierre has vacated his belt just one month after winning it, and an undisputed title fight between previous interim champ Robert Whittaker and ex-champ Luke Rockhold is set.

Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) vs. Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is happening at UFC 221, which takes place Feb. 10 at Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

The development comes just one day after St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) told TSN in Canada he didn’t think he would defend the 185-pound belt. St-Pierre, the former longtime welterweight champ who claimed middleweight gold with a third-round submission of Michael Bisping at UFC 217, revealed last week that he’s suffering from colitis, which will keep him out indefinitely.

St-Pierre never was clear about his future beyond his comeback fight after a four-year hiatus, despite being contractually obligated to unify the belt. In the week after his win over Bisping, St-Pierre vowed that he wouldn’t “freeze” the division.

Now things can move along with Whittaker, Rockhold and the rest of the 185-pound title picture.

Whittaker claimed the interim middleweight belt in July with a unanimous-decision victory over Yoel Romero at UFC 213. Whittaker has won his past eight contests overall, including seven-straight since he returned to middleweight from welterweight in November 2014. Although he’s been patient along the way, Whittaker clearly was eager to get a shot at one of the sport’s all-time greats in St-Pierre.

Instead, Whittaker will face Rockhold, a former titleholder who is coming off a second-round TKO of David Branch at UFC Fight Night 116 in September. The bout marked Rockhold’s return to the octagon after more than a year. In his fight prior, he suffered a stunning first-round knockout loss to drop the belt to Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016.

For more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Luke Rockhold vs. Robert Whittaker? Kelvin Gastelum gets out in front to make his case

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If Luke Rockhold is next for Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum has something to say.

Word around the campfire is that former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold may get the call to take on current interim champ Robert Whittaker in the new year.

With that potential in mind, Gastelum already has something to say on his own behalf – and it’s hard to argue with his math.

Less than two weeks ago, Gastelum (14-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) knocked out former champ Michael Bisping in the UFC Fight Night 122 main event.

Gastelum (14-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) almost immediately made the case for a fight with Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) after his win. But after Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) beat David Branch in September in his first fight in 16 months, he made his own case to fight Whittaker.

Whittaker thought he’d most likely be fighting the Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre winner to unify the belts. But with St-Pierre dealing with colitis and unsure when he’ll fight again, let alone if it’ll be at 185 pounds, Whittaker is going to want to compete.

So before any potential Rockhold-Whittaker fight can get booked, Gastelum today posted on Twitter that the matchup would be a mistake.

He posted two scenarios – one for Rockhold, and one for himself:

“A: Fought only once in 18 months against someone who wasnt even competing in the ufc a year ago.

“B: Fought 4 times in 12 months, 3 of them in the main event in the last 8 months against former champions ranked in top 10 of the division. *Doesn’t have a modeling career.”

After Rockhold lost the title at UFC 199 in June 2016 to Bisping, he was on the shelf till his UFC Fight Night 116 win over former two-division champ Branch.

Over just about the same time frame as Rockhold’s title loss and follow-up win, Gastelum has had five fights, coing 3-1 with a no-contest.

He beat former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks at UFC 200 in a 170-pound matchup. Then he returned to middleweight and beat Tim Kennedy and Vitor Belfort by TKO, though the Belfort win was thrown out due to a drug test failure for marijuana.

Gastelum lost to Chris Weidman in July, but rebounded with a bit knockout of Bisping in the UFC Fight Night 122 headliner. He has fought in three straight main events and four of his past five opponents were former UFC champions.

So what do you think? Who would you rather see fight Whittaker for his interim middleweight title? Rockhold, or Gastelum? Let us know in the poll below.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Take Our Poll
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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Michael Bisping and UFC 217's other losing fighters?

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(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 217’s winning fighters?)

UFC 217 was not a good night for champions. All three titleholders who entered the octagon dropped their belts with a stoppage loss on Saturday’s pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The fairytale title reign of Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) came to a halt in the main event when he dropped the middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) with a third-round technical submission.

Prior to that, Cody Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) had their undefeated records, as well as UFC titles, taken away with knockout losses to T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) and Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC), respectively.

Also on the main card, former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks (18-8 MMA, 13-8 UFC) continued his career slide while Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) experienced another disappointing setback.

After every event, fans wonder whom the losing fighters will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 217’s losing fighters.

* * * *

Johny Hendricks

Rashad Evans

Should fight: Rashad Evans
Why they should fight: Hendricks’ career slide took arguably it’s most worrisome turn when the former champ suffered a second-round TKO loss to rising middleweight prospect Paulo Costa.

After being forced out of the welterweight division due to multiple failed weight cuts, Hendricks won his 185-pound debut earlier this year. He lost his subsequent fight against veteran Tim Boetsch, but after falling short against a previously unproven prospect, he’s in a challenging position.

Hendricks is just 1-5 in his past six UFC fights dating back to March 2015. He moved his camp to Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., in hopes of finding new results, but it didn’t go his way. As long as Hendricks decides he wants to fight, he’s going to be a notable name who will have a job with the UFC or elsewhere.

“Bigg Rigg” desperately needs to win his next fight, and fighting someone who’s at a similar stage in his career might be the only thing to help him regain his confidence and form. Fellow ex-champ Evans (19-7-1 MMA, 14-7-1 UFC) is no gimme fight when he’s on point, but even the current version of Hendricks would likely be a favorite.

Jorge Masvidal

Dong Hyun Kim

Should fight: Dong Hyun Kim
Why they should fight: Just when Masvidal appeared to be on the cusp of a welterweight title shot, he suddenly finds himself on a two-fight losing skid after suffering a unanimous-decision defeat to Stephen Thompson.

Masvidal fell short against the two-time title challenger and is now in a difficult position. His two losses came against the best in Thompson and Demian Maia, but in a similar situation to when he was fighting at 155 pounds, Masvidal has had trouble winning at the most crucial moments.

Nevertheless, Masvidal isn’t going anywhere and will attempt to fight his way back into the mix. Kim (22-4-1 MMA, 13-4 UFC) is coming off a loss to Masvidal’s teammate Colby Covington, and he’d surely be happy to follow up on his good friend’s handiwork with a showdown against “Stun Gun.”

Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Should fight: Namajunas
Why they should fight: After putting together one of the most dominant title runs in UFC history, Jedrzejczyk finally experienced her first career setback with an upset loss to Rose Namajunas to drop the 115-pound title.

Although it was a surprising and disappointing outcome for the Polish fighter, it’s obvious what has to happen for her next: an immediate rematch with Namajunas. The UFC often gives dominant titleholders an immediate chance to regain the belt, and Jedrzejczyk has more than earned that opportunity.

If there were a clear No. 1 contender who had been overdue for a title shot, then perhaps there would be an argument to go a different direction for Namajunas’ first title challenger. No such contender exists, so Jedrzejczyk vs. Namajunas 2 should be next.

Cody Garbrandt

Should fight: John Lineker
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Garbrandt should fight Lineker (30-8 MMA, 11-3 UFC) next after his title-fight loss.

Michael Bisping

Should fight: Luke Rockhold
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Bisping should have his trilogy bout with Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) following his title-fight loss.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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In his vow to fight on after UFC 217, Michael Bisping sings a familiar tune

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You didn’t think you were going to get rid of Michael Bisping that easily, did you?

Well think again, because as the former UFC middleweight champion explained after losing his title to Georges St-Pierre in Saturday’s pay-per-view main event at UFC 217 in New York, he’s not ready to retire yet.

“I don’t want my last time in the octagon to be me getting choked out,” Bisping said following the event. “So I’ll be back in there at some point.”

We’ve heard this one before. Several times, in fact, and from some pretty great fighters. It’s a vicious cycle, is what it is.

Typically how it works is, you’re getting older and you’re coming off a loss, which is the only reason why anyone’s asking you about retirement in the first place. But you don’t want to retire on a loss. What kind of a note is that to end on?

So now you’ve got to get a win before you can feel good about calling it quits. And if you need a couple tries to get that win, so be it.

But then, what if you get that win? Isn’t that a sign that you’ve still got it after all? Turns out that retirement talk was premature. You can still win fights and cash checks, so why wouldn’t you? At least until you lose again, and then the cycle starts all over.

What makes it even trickier for Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) is that middleweight has become a very dangerous place, especially for a former champ with a lot of enemies about. Think about the opponents who would make the most sense for him now. Think about which fights the UFC is likely to think it could sell.

There’s his old foe Luke Rockhold, for example. They’re due for a rubber match after splitting a pair of fights that ended with them somehow liking each other even less than when they started. The acrimony alone would garner attention, and it’s not like Rockhold has anything better to do as he waits for the title picture to clear up.

Then there’s Yoel Romero, whose beef with Bisping involved the ripping of flags and the burning of effigies, resulting in a simmering and as-of-yet-unresolved feud.

Both of those are dangerous fights for Bisping, especially now. He hopes to fight in London in March, but he also turns 39 in February. He’s won so many fights with his resiliency and his stubborn refusal to quit, and now he wears the damage from those wars all over his face.

As St-Pierre explained in his post-fight remarks, the left hook he landed to set up the finish came from diligent film study. He and his team had noticed that Bisping, who’s struggled with injuries to his right eye for several years, had difficulty with strikes that came from that side.

Now that St-Pierre was nice enough to explain it on live TV, look for that to be something that all of Bisping’s future opponents try to use to their advantage.

Of course, maybe the UFC won’t ask too much of the company man in his return to action. He doesn’t necessarily have to fight a top middleweight if all he wants is to end on a high note. Then again, you have to reach pretty far down the middleweight ranks right now to find anyone who’s not a highly effective purveyor of violence.

Any way the story ends, Bisping will go down as one of the most successful UFC fighters of all time, as well as one of the great overachievers in MMA history. He was consistently overlooked and undervalued by fans and fellow fighters alike, but somehow he ended up with a title and the all-time record for UFC wins.

Getting one more (or not) probably won’t make any great difference to his legacy or his bank account, since both ought to be pretty secure by now. But the obstinate search for that elusive final win has a way of backfiring on aging fighters. And maybe any ending that lets you walk away with your health intact ought to be considered a happy one.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

'Silly arse kid' Luke Rockhold and 'not worth my time' Derek Brunson chirp on Twitter

Dann StuppSo much for Derek Brunson’s attempt to book a fight with a former UFC middleweight champion.

Brunson (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC), who scored a quick win over Lyoto Machida (22-8 MMA, 14-8 UFC) this past weekend in UFC Fight Night 119’s headliner, had his sights set on Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) next. And he tried to goad the former titleholder – “Lucas,” as he called him – into a fight (via Twitter):

But Rockhold, who’s No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings following a stoppage win over David Branch in September, quickly dismissed No. 10-ranked Brunson (via Twitter):

Rockhold is likely referring to interim titleholder Robert Whittaker, ranked No. 2, and contender Yoel Romero, who’s No. 4. They beat Brunson in 2016 and 2014, respectively.

And then the back-and-forth continued (via Twitter):

Brunson’s callout of Rockhold actually came after another one – one that was also directed at an ex-champ.

However, Brunson then learned Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who recently halted a three-fight skid with a submission win over Kelvin Gastelum, likely won’t be back in action anytime soon (via Twitter):

Do you want to see Brunson vs. Rockhold? Vote in the poll below.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Volkan Oezdemir's attempt to troll UFC champ Daniel Cormier kind of backfired

Daniel Cormier knows the promotional aspect of the fight game as well as anyone, so if you’re going to come at the UFC light heavyweight champion, you better not miss.

Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who is expected to next challenge Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) for the 205-pound belt, learned that the hard way over the weekend. He attempted to troll “DC” by using his good friend and training partner Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) against him, but in the end it backfired.

Oezdemir trains out of Florida’s newly formed Combat Club academy. Rockhold has been training at the facility intermediately in recent months, meaning he’s shared the gym who is likely to next face his American Kickboxing Academy teammate Cormier.

According to Oezdemir, he’s been gathering intel from Rockhold about how to dethrone the champion during training sessions. Cormier shut that down quickly, though, indicating that the situation is actual the other way around and Rockhold is actually his “inside man” (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

@lukerockhold we always knew he wasn’t very smart, but this seems to be working better than I could have ever imagined. They really have no clue, keep sending me the intel. Last nights report was amazing. Thanks Brother #weareaka #mybrother #day1 #insideman

After suffering a knockout loss to Jon Jones at UFC 214 that was later overturned to a no-contest, because of a failed drug test, Cormier has said he plans to sit out of the remainder of the year. He intends on fighting Oezdemir in the first quarter of 2018, but even this far out, the gamesmanship is in full effect.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie