UFC 268 has taken a hit after Luke Rockhold withdrew from his middleweight return bout againt Sean Strickland through injury.
The former 185lbs champion has been out of action since a knockout defeat to Jan Blachowicz back in 2019 after he moved up to light heavyweight.
He was however due to return back down to middleweight for a bout against number 7 ranked Strickland in New York at UFC 268 next month.
However after back and forth exchanges on social media between the two fighters, the fight will be shelved for now after Rockhold revealed he herniated a disc in training and will be unable to fight.
In a statement posted to his official Instagram account, the Team AKA affiliate said;
“There’s no easy way to really say it but the fight is off in New York.
“I ended up herniating a disc in my back, L4, L5, and the docs say it’s nothing I can play with. I need to do some treatment with some recovery time.
“Some things just aren’t meant to be. New York, motherfucking New York. Sorry to the friends and the family and the peeps and all the people but we’ll be back. Till next time.”
Rockhold won the championship against Chris Weidman back in 2015 but has since gone 1-3 in his professional career, losing the belt to Michael Bisping in his next bout.
Strickland has been on a tear since returning from a big injury himself and is currently on a five-fight win streak, with four victories since October 2020.
The 30-year-old responded to the news on his own Instagram comments section, claiming he never expected the fight to happen and revealing a sparring tale from between the two in the past.
“He was never going to make the fight lmao.. no one is surprised.
“I sparred him once and almost put him out.. didn’t even spar the second round, just walked out of the gym lmao.. I knew this wasn’t happening.”
The UFC are now searching for a new opponent for Strickland, although it’s not guaranteed that they will find one with much of the top end of the division already booked up or having recently fought.
UFC 268 will take place on November 6th from Madison Square Garden and will be headlined by two title fight rematches.
Kamaru Usman will defend his welterweight title against long-time rival Colby Covington while Rose Namajunas makes the first defence of her second strawweight reign when she takes on Weili Zhang again in the co-main event.