In the co-main event of UFC 278, a former champion was making his highly anticipated return. Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (16-5) was taking on former title challenger Paulo Costa (13-2).
Rockhold was returning for the first time in three years. The last time we saw him was against Jan Blachowicz and well, things didn’t go well for the former champion. Rockhold has rededicated himself to the sport and he was looking to make a statement.
However, it wasn’t going to be easy against Paulo Costa. A couple of years ago, Paulo Costa looked like a future UFC champion. However, he was destroyed by Israel Adesanya and that really threw everything off. Costa went on to lose to Marvin Vettori after the loss to Adesanya as well.
However, he looks better than he has in a long time and at UFC 278, he wanted to show the world he was back at the expense of Luke Rockhold.
UFC 278 Recap
There was no touch of the gloves to start this UFC 278 middleweight contest. Costa immediately comes out and takes the center. Rockhold on the outside light on his feet. Big kicks early on from Rockhold and now he tries a takedown attempt.
However, it looks like Costa hurt him there. Rockhold really trying for a takedown and Costa is making him eat big shots. They get up and Costa lands a big left hand. Body kick from Rockhold and now it’s Costa who attempts and lands a takedown.
Rockhold trying to work off his back here, but Costa has him against the fence. Costa looking to posture up here but Rockhold is defending well for now on the bottom. Rockhold tries an escape and he looks for a guillotine on the way up. However, Costa pops his head out and gets back on top.
Costa gets the mount, but Rockhold immediately explodes and gets up to his feet. Front kick to the body for Rockhold. Four straight body kicks land for Rockhold but Costa just waves him on. Lots of blood coming out of the nose of Rockhold and he’s breathing with his mouth open.
Thirty seconds left in the round and Rockhold lands another power body kick. Right hook for Rockhold lands. Round comes to a close and Rockhold looks gassed at UFC 278.
Entering the second at UFC 278 and Rockhold looked horrible after the first in terms of his energy. Here we go to start the second. Rockhold lands a huge left hand to start the striking. Another huge left and a body kick. However, Costa lands a big right and Rockhold looks hurt.
Takedown attempt from Rockhold and he almost has it. Costa tries to reverse and they break. Now it’s Costa pressing the issue here. Rockhold is completely gassed and his hands are down. However, he’s hanging in there still. Big left hand for Rockhold lands.
Costa trying to press back here. Right hand lands for Costa. Head kick attempt from Rockhold and then Costa throws one right behind it. Rockhold bends over and the knees because he’s so tired. Costa comes forward but Rockhold lands a couple of big shots.
I can’t believe how tired Luke Rockhold looks. Big body kick lands from Costa and Rockhold felt that one. Pressure from Costa and now a low blow lands and there’s a break in the action. Both men got a needed break and here we go.
Jab from Costa lands. Head kick from Rockhold just misses. Left hook lands for Costa as Rockhold advances. Low kick and then a spinning back kick lands for Rockhold. Low kick lands for Costa now and he throws a combination up top. Jab for Costa. Vicious body kick lands for Paulo Costa. The round ends and both men stumble back to their corner.
Entering the final round at UFC 278 and Rockhold looks in bad shape cardio wise. Costa goes right on the pressure to start the final round. Body kick from Costa and a combo up top. Spinning back fist from Rockhold and Costa slips. Rockhold tries to pounce but slips off.
Huge right hand from Costa rocks Rockhold. However, Rockhold lands a huge left that backs him off. Costa right back on the pressure and lands another clean combination. However, once again, Rockhold lands a huge left hand that hurts Costa.
1-2 from Rockhold lands. Sloppy takedown attempt from Rockhold and Costa just brushes him aside. Costa ends up in side control with half the round remaining. Unless Rockhold can get up, he’s going to lose a decision at UFC 278.
Costa moves to mount and Rockhold tries to explode to get up. However, Costa ends up getting his back. Rockhold trying to spin but he doesn’t appear to have the energy. He finally turns in the final thirty seconds and the crowd erupts. However, nothing big happens after that in this one is over. This one should go to Paulo Costa at UFC 278
Paulo Costa def. Luke Rockhold (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)