Chael Sonnen thinks the upcoming bout between Luke Rockhold and Paulo Costa is an interesting one.
Two of the biggest stars in the UFC middleweight division will be facing off against each other after some time away. Luke Rockhold will be returning from a three-year layoff and will face Paulo Costa at UFC 278 next weekend. Costa last fought in October of last year but that bout was at light heavyweight due to some weight-cutting issues on Costa’s end. This matchup is intriguing in many ways, Rockhold is a former champion returning from an extended break and Costa is the number six ranked fighter in the division, returning from a one-off at 205 pounds.
Chael Sonnen sees a very intriguing matchup between Luke Rockhold and Paula Costa
One man who is excited about this bout is Chael Sonnen. Sonnen is a former fighter turned analyst who spends his time breaking down fights and posting his thought on his YouTube channel. Sonnen is pitting this matchup as killer vs. killer. He thinks both men are dangerous and is crediting Rockhold for accepting Costa as his first fight back.
“You have two guys that everybody’s scared of,” Sonnen said on his YouTube channel h/t MMA Junkie. “There’s a way to beat Paulo Costa, but only one guy has showed us it, and there was a few moving parts there. I gotta take the Vettori fight out. That might not be fair to do, but I gotta take the Vettori fight out. It was missed weight, everything got a little bit goofy, it was very competitive, it was close both ways, Vettori got his hand raised. I gotta move that out, because it wasn’t at 185. And there’s a way to beat Luke, but you got to have incredible power, and you got to find that spot. Now that happens to be two tools that Paulo Costa has. It’s just an interesting fight.”
Before his break from the UFC, Rockhold lost three of his last four. He also tried his hand at light heavyweight in a last-ditch effort to reinvigorate his career, but it did not pan out. Now that he has not fought since 2019, he is stepping back in against a top ten guy who he has been trash talking for some time now. There is no love lost between these two men and even though Costa has been more active as of late, Sonnen thinks Rockhold could be a threat.
“But Luke has also been out for a meaningful period of time. He’s walking right in there against The Terminator,” Sonnen said. “I really think that’s the part of Luke Rockhold’s story that people don’t talk about. That dude might be pleasant to look at, (but) that dude is a straight-up badass. Luke doesn’t get in there with anybody easy. Not to mention, getting in there with Paulo Costa on your best of days is a trying situation. To get on there when you’re off of a break, I feel that he should get more credit.”
Costa suffered his first ever loss to the champion Israel Adesanya back in 2020. His only fight since then was a loss to Marvin Vettori at 205 pounds. The circumstances behind that one were odd, Costa came into fight week knowing he was heavy and asked for the bout to be moved up a weight class instead of missing weight and having to pay a penalty. Vettori’s camp agreed and then he went out and beat Costa in a sloppy five-round bout.
Rockhold vs. Costa will be the co-main event of UFC 278. The event takes place on Aug. 20 and will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards.