Thursday’s UFC 199 press conference was primarily about the show, another chance for the event’s main players -- Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping, Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber -- to sell the card with a final round of verbal jousting.
However, during one contentious exchange, middleweight champion Luke Rockhold made a startling revelation regarding his health.
“I’ve been dealing with a knee injury. I’m not gonna lie. This whole camp. But I don’t pull out of fights,” Rockhold said. “I fight through injuries. I don’t care what the circumstances are. I tore my MCL. I haven’t grappled this whole camp. I just started kicking last week.”
Rockhold will defend his 185-pound title against Bisping in the UFC 199 headliner at The Forum in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Not surprisingly, Bisping was not particularly sympathetic toward his opponent’s ailment and asked why the champion didn’t take advantage of the promotion’s insurance coverage for injuries.
“I don’t care about the insurance policy. I don’t need an insurance policy to beat your ass,” Rockhold replied. “I don’t need a knee, I don’t even need to walk -- I’ll crawl in that cage and I’ll still whoop your ass.”
There is recent precedent for a fighter having success in a championship bout while competing with a torn MCL. Rafael dos Anjos suffered the same injury in training prior to his dominant decision victory over Anthony Pettis to claim lightweight gold at UFC 185. Dos Anjos underwent surgery following the bout.
Rockhold dropped Bisping with a head kick before finishing his opponent with a rear-naked choke 2:31 into the second round of their first meeting at UFC Fight Night in November 2014. Bisping received the title shot on two week’s notice after Chris Weidman withdrew from the bout to undergo surgery for a herniated disc in his neck.