The former UFC middleweight champion was met with near universal acclaim for his valiant effort against Paulo Costa in what ultimately served as Rockhold’s retirement fight. Despite losing his return from a three-year layoff, Rockhold showed tremendous heart in the back-and-forth battle and gave the MMA world a swan song to remember. But Paul was not impressed, deeming the performance to be “dog s***” in a lengthy Twitter rant.
Rockhold responded to the exchange on Wednesday’s episode of The MMA Hour.
“I don’t really give relevance to idiots. I’m tired of doing that,” Rockhold said.
“I thought the kid had a better head on his shoulders, and I thought he was doing better for the sport [of MMA]. Like you said, it was cool — I’ve seen him stand up for respect for the sport. But then the hate kind of got to him and made him feel insecure about his hate, and so he tried to put that off on me, because of obviously my cardiovascular system in the altitude. But motherf*****, you’re doing handicapped fighting. So don’t talk. And you’re finding guys that are smaller than you, everything you’re doing. I don’t think I really opened my mouth about you — don’t open your mouth about me. You just don’t f****** understand what fighting is. When you’re thinking about fighting, you’ve got to think about dying.
“Boxing is boxing. Putting these f****** puffy little pads on your hands and all you’ve got to worry about their f****** hands. Think about elbows, think about knees, think about grappling, think about kicks, think about f****** every goddamn thing you could think about. Put you in a state of reality, which you’ve lost touch with.”
Rockhold, 37, is one of the most decorated middleweights of his era. The California native captured titles in both Strikeforce and the UFC, and holds notable victories over Ronaldo Souza, Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping, and Lyoto Machida, among many others. He is also one of the few big-name UFC fighters to use his platform to push for better working conditions within the UFC — Rockhold spent the majority of UFC 278 fight week speaking openly about the need for increased UFC pay, better health care, and other similar issues.
Paul has championed many of the same causes in his crusade against UFC president Dana White, so it was a surprise for some to see the YouTuber come after Rockhold.
“The reality of the modern day — people like that, he thinks he’s like a f****** [Muhammad] Ali,” Rockhold said of Paul.
“Shut the f*** up. Go back in your f****** hole before I f****** smack the s*** out of you.”
Rockhold, however, is content in his retirement. Despite the back-and-forth, he’s not interested in pursuing the Paul drama any further than it’s already gotten.
“Not really, no. I’ve got my plans,” Rockhold said when asked about potentially fighting Paul.
“I don’t need it. I don’t need to give relevance to some f****** dumb kid.”