Many people felt that Luke Rockhold showed little class in defeat when he was shockingly KO’d inside a round by Michael Bisping at UFC 199 back in June of 2016.
At the post-fight press conference, Rockhold aimed a parade of insults at Bisping, calling him “a piece of s**t” and “a d*ck” among other things. He also promised to come back and “f**king kill” Bisping, whose win he branded “lucky”, before refusing to shake the Englishman’s hand.
Rockhold, however, had his reasons for behaving in a less than sporting manner. While the American was recovering from the KO in the octagon earlier that night, Bisping had taunted him mercilessly.
“Unlucky buddy,” said Bisping, patting Rockhold patronisingly. “I told you. Unlucky though. Good job.”
“You’re in an octagon by the way. It’s okay, you’ll come to.”
In a social media post a couple of days later, Rockhold explained that these taunts made him “pissed” and triggered his behaviour at the presser.
Rockhold’s response to his KO defeat to Yoel Romero in the main event of Saturday night’s UFC 221 card in Perth, Western Australia was very different indeed.
Taking to Twitter a couple of hours afterwards, Rockhold posted a classy message of respect for his Cuban conqueror.
“Respect to Yoel,” wrote Rockhold. “That man is made of steel.”
Respect to Yoel that man is made of steel.
— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) February 11, 2018
Of course, this was somewhat reciprocal, as Romero’s treatment of Rockhold in the octagon after the KO had also been very different than Bisping’s at UFC 199.
Though his timing and intensity made for slightly uncomfortable viewing…
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) February 11, 2018
…Romero showed class by trying to console Rockhold after the fight. In his post-fight interview with Jon Anik, the self-professed ‘Soldier of God’ also praised Rockhold for his athleticism and fighting ability.
It certainly does seem like it would be much easier to act with class following a defeat to the kiss and hug dispensing Romero, regardless of how brutal, than it would after a loss to the often sarcastic, abrasive Bisping.