Luke Rockhold Seemingly Retires After Bloody War of Attrition with Paulo Costa at UFC 278

Luke Rockhold and Paulo Costa delivered an entertaining 15 minutes at UFC 278, but the former middleweight champion indicated that it would be his last fight.

Luke Rockhold
Courtesy @UFC on Twitter

Luke Rockhold returned to the Octagon after more than three years away at UFC 278 and gave the fans a fight to remember, albeit in a losing effort against former title challenger Paulo Costa.

For 15 minutes, both fighters gave everything they had, though it was clear after the opening round that Luke Rockhold’s gas tank was already running on fumes. Still, the former world champion pressed on delivering a memorable performance fueled by his own heart and determination. In the end,  it wasn’t enough. Paulo Costa walked out of the Octagon with a unanimous decision win and his spot in the top ten rankings secure. 

Following the contest, Joe Rogan had the chance to speak with an exhausted Luke Rockhold about the contest and what may come next.

“I’ve been through so much the last few years,” an emotional Rockhold said. “I f*cking… thank you, fighting. Thank you, UFC. Thank you, Joe (Rogan). I f*cking can’t do this sh*t anymore. I gave it my all. I just didn’t… I’m f*cking old.”

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If that is indeed the end of Luke Rockhold’s mixed martial arts career, the former Strikeforce and UFC world champion will end it with a record of 16-6-0. At UFC 194, Luke Rockhold reached the top of the mountain when he defeated Chris Weidman for the middleweight world champion. His reign was short-lived as he would go on to lose the title to Michael Bisping just six months later at UFC 199. 

Rockhold finishes his UFC career losing four of his last five bouts. Throughout his 15-year run, Rockhold has beaten some of MMA’s greatest including Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, Lyoto Machida, Michael Bisping, and the aforementioned Chris Weidman. 

Paulo Costa Says Luke Rockhold Rubbing Blood on His Face Was ‘Disgusting’

One of the crazier moments of Paulo Costa’s three-round war with Luke Rockhold came in the third round after the former world champion had secured the top position over the Brazilian. Noticeably exhausted, Rockhold put all of his efforts into holding Costa down in the third and then proceeded to rub the blood running from his nose all over Costa’s face. It was unlike anything we had seen before in a UFC contest and got a noticeable reaction from the live crowd and those commenting through social media. 

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During the UFC 278 post-fight press conference, Paulo Costa addressed the move by Rockhold, describing it as ‘disgusting.’ 

“I didn’t see it in the moment of the fight,” Costa said. “I just felt something on my face, but I was so worried about blocking his arms to not get elbowed in the face and punched. But I felt something.

“Now, when I saw, it’s a very disgusting scene. It’s a very weird moment.

“I saw the moment where [Yoel] Romero kisses [Rockhold] after beating him, as well,” he added. “That was the weirdest moment that I had seen, but this beat that moment. I don’t know why Luke did that. Maybe he was so frustrated and angry because he was losing the fight. But I took a very long shower after the fight.”

It was certainly a fitting end to one of the weirdest brawls in UFC memory. Both fighters were noticeably exhausted early on, likely due to competing in the elevated environment of Salt Lake City. That didn’t stop the two warriors from giving fans a war of attrition that featured a little bit of everything and a whole lot to talk about.

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