UFC 278: Paulo Costa defeated Luke Rockhold, who retired afterward.
Paulo Costa defeated Luke Rockhold via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), at UFC 278 on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, live from the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, UT.
“It was a war. It was a very good fight. He surprised me. He got a lot of clean shots. People say he doesn’t have a good chin but he does,” said Costa.
“I’ve been through so much the last few years. Thank you, fighting. Thank you UFC, Thank you, Joe. I just can’t do this anymore. I’m just fucking old,” said Rockhold.
The two fighters did not touch gloves and immediately started throwing. The two traded, with Rockhold landing a good combination. Rockhold went for a takedown but Costa defended it and landed a powerful shot that appeared to hurt Rockhold. Costa backed up Rockhold and rocked him with a big shot and landed the takedown. Rockhold attempted a guillotine but Costa was able to break the hold and moved into mount. Rockhold exploded out the back door and returned to his feet. Rockhold landed four straight body kicks but appeared to have trouble breathing. Rockhold’s nose was bleeding heavily. Costa ate another powerful body kick. Both fighters were exhausted after the first round. Rockhold took his time getting back to his corner, pausing with his hands on his knees.
Costa landed a body kick but Rockhold fired back with two left hands. Following a body kick, Rockhold landed a takedown. Costa was able to reverse the position and return to his feet. Costa landed a pair of shots but Rockhold countered with a right hook. Rockhold landed a beautiful spinning roundhouse kick to the body. Rockhold landed a left hand that opened up a cut under Costa’s eye. Costa continued to come forward and apply pressure. Rockhold dropped his hands in exhaustion. A foul from Rockhold led to a brief stoppage. Costa missed a spinning kick. Costa landed a brutal low blow and thought he had finished the fight and started celebrating. Referee Mike Beltran warned both fighters as the fight got restarted. The fighters continued to trade kicks. Rockhold landed more but Costa had more power. Costa landed a powerful body kick. Between rounds, Rockhold again rested on his knees before getting back to his stool.
Costa continued to be the more aggressive fighter, pushing forward and landing a big shot. Rockhold dropped Costa but could not follow up. Costa exploded back to his feet. The two fighters traded power punches. Costa landed a shot to the body. Rockhold was absolutely exhausted, leaving himself vulnerable. Rockhold out of nowhere landed a huge shot. Rockhold landed a twisting kick to the body and a left hook. Costa was able to sprawl and defend the takedown. Costa reversed the positioning and took side control. Costa took Rockhold’s back but Rockhold transitioned into the top position. The clock ran out on Rockhold before he could inflict any major damage.
Costa and Rockhold were initially supposed to fight at UFC 277 but the fight was rescheduled to UFC 278. After starting his career with 13 straight victories, Costa earned a title shot. Costa was easily defeated by middleweight champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 253. Following his loss to Adesanya, Costa lost his next fight to Marvin Vettori. However, that fight was greatly overshadowed by Costa missing weight and forcing the fight to move to light heavyweight. With his victory over Rockhold, Costa remains one of the top middleweights.
Rockhold returned to the Octagon for the first time in more than three years at UFC 278. In his last fight, Rockhold moved up to light heavyweight and was knocked out by Jan Błachowicz. The stoppage was the third time in his previous four fights that Rockhold had been knocked out. Rockhold announced his retirement after the fight and will be remembered as a former Strikeforce and UFC middleweight champion.