Luke Rockhold and Kelvin Gastelum engage in war of words.
When Georges St- Pierre vacated the UFC Middleweight title early last week and Interim champion Robert Whittaker was promoted to undisputed champion, it became clear that Whittaker would defend his title at UFC 221 in Perth. The only question was: against whom? The two obvious candidates were former champion Luke Rockhold and rising contender Kelvin Gastelum.
Despite some strong social media campaigning by Gastelum, Rockhold was chosen to match up against Whittaker. At a recent media scrum Rockhold defended his selection as the contender:
“I know I’ve proven myself,” Rockhold said. “I’ve accomplished things in this sport, whereas little midgets like Kelvin Gastelum haven’t. I’ve destroyed Chris Weidman, which he got destroyed by Weidman, so it’s like ehh [shrugs].”
Later, Gastelum responded via twitter:
“I haven’t done anything in the sport but I did KO the 2 guys that shut the light out on him! Haha.”
Gastelum is referring to Michael Bisping who knocked out Rockhold to win the belt at 199 and Vitor Belfort, who knocked out Luke with a spectacular wheel kick in 2013. Gastelum KO’d Bisping several weeks ago at UFC Shanghai and KO’d Vitor Belfort in March 2017.
Of course the counter arguments are that Rockhold was injured when he fought Bisping, whereas Kelvin fought Bisping two weeks after he got concussed by GSP. As for Vitor, Rockhold fought Vitor when the Brazilian was on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), and Kelvin fought a deflated version, years later.
But Rockhold doesn’t seem concerned with the banter:
“This kid hasn’t beaten really anybody and done anything in this sport, and for him to run his mouth, it’s pretty funny. It’s laughable. He’ll find out real if he continues his efforts at 185. I’d slap that kid down real quick. Real quick.”
Rockhold has recently switched camps, leaving American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) to train with Dutch striking coach Henri Hooft in Florida.
“AKA’s not what it used to be. Like, you get guys filtering in and out, but, I mean, Cain’s [Velasquez] been injured, Khabib’s [Nurmagomedov] always in Russia, DC’s [Daniel Cormier] doing TV. I gotta look out for myself. I love my brothers and my team out there and you’ll see a lot of them in my corner I’m sure, but this is time to be the best I can be and think about myself right now.”