“I don’t really know what to do with my hands.”
That’s what Ricky Bobby, played by Will Ferrell in the 2006 comedy film Talladega Nights uttered in one interview, but that may as well have been Luke Rockhold at UFC 209.
What was a simple, trademark UFC move of showcasing famous people and/or fighters in the crowd at pay-per-view events turned into one of the most awkward, and thus funny, memories in mixed martial arts.
It was one of the first times Rockhold had been seen by UFC fans since he lost the UFC middleweight title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 and he was flanked by the ever popular Nate Diaz.
While both are California boys, when Diaz started appearing to use his hands to make apparent gang signs, Rockhold thought about copying before realising he didn’t know what he was doing – like everyone else who isn’t Nick or Nate Diaz would.
The problem was, he had the unfortunate realisation on live on TV. Many joked at the time it reminded them of Bobby, the fictional NASCAR racing driver.
In his early career, Rockhold trained out of the American Kickboxing Academy under Khabib Nurmagomedov tutor Javier Mendez.
He was the Strikeforce middleweight champion before moving over to UFC and after losing to Vitor Belfort, he went on an impressive winning streak that led to him winning the UFC middleweight title from Chris Weidman in 2015.
Since losing to Bisping in 2016, Rockhold won a comeback fight against David Branch before losing an interim middleweight title fight against Yoel Romero.
He attempted to move up to light-heavyweight in 2019, but future champion Jan Blachowicz knocked him out in the second round and Rockhold hasn’t fought since.
He was meant to face Sean Strickland at UFC 268, but he had to pull out of the fight due to a herniated disk. He may well have more spare time to attend UFC events and just maybe he’ll be more prepared the next time the camera lands on him.
For Diaz fans, meanwhile, they would have been disappointed not to have seen him on the UFC 209 card.
The welterweight does not hide his pride in being from Stockton, who postcode is 209 and often yells it out.
However, he was in a period of inactivity at this point, with his previous fight being against Conor McGregor in August 2016 and didn’t appear in the octagon again until beating Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 in 2019.