Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold recently revealed his favorite UFC moment of all time during an appearance on The Jaxxon Podcast. Rockhold cited the infamous UFC 137 press conference where Nick Diaz no-showed as leading to a massive boost in pay-per-view sales for the UFC.
“My favorite was the ‘who the f*** is that guy?’ with Conor McGregor and Jeremy Stephens,” said The Schmo. “That just made me giddy inside. For Conor to tell a veteran like Jeremy that he didn’t belong there, it was like a big brother moment.”
He was referring to the UFC 178 press conference in September 2014 when a young Conor McGregor dismissed Jeremy Stephens by asking “who the f*** is that guy?” This bold callout by the brash Irishman generated headlines and signaled the rise of McGregor’s superstardom.
However, host replacement Luke Rockhold had an interesting counter. Rockhold’s all-time favorite UFC moment was when Nick Diaz failed to show up for the UFC 137 press conference to promote his welterweight title against Georges St-Pierre.
“Do you remember the fighter Diaz was supposed to fight when he didn’t show up? It was GSP,” recalled Rockhold.
Diaz’s decision to skip media obligations infuriated UFC president Dana White at the time. But the controversy and intrigue surrounding the bad boy from Stockton generated significant interest in the fight. While never confirmed, White later estimated that Diaz’s antics led to the UFC 137 pay-per-view buys increasing by 300,000 to 400,000 purchases.
Rockhold praised these moments as epitomizing the appeal of the fight game, where pre-fight drama between larger-than-life personas creates must-see events that capture the public’s imagination. For the former UFC champion, the Diaz “no show” that inadvertently quadrupled PPV sales tops them all.
The Diaz incident would also mark a significant shift in UFC’s relationship with leading MMA journalist Ariel Helwani who recently recounted the incident explaining that Diaz had missed his plane and that there were all kinds of rumors floating around at the time casting a shadow of a doubt over the event.