Paulo Costa earned a unanimous decision victory over a cardio-compromised version of Luke Rockhold tonight at UFC 278.
Costa runs to the center of the Octagon. Leg kick for Rockhold. Now a push kick for him. Rockhold pressing forward now and seems to get clipped as he’s trying for a takedown. They scramble for a moment with Costa looking to land.
The action moves across the Octagon now. Rockhold with his hands low for a moment, a risky move. Costa lands nicely and then lands a takedown.
Costa takes his time on top in half-guard. Elbow to the body from Costa and then moves into full mount. Rockhold scrambles out of that and tries for a guillotine choke, but Costa breaks free. Costa back in half guard and starts landing heavy body punches, then goes back to full mount.
Rockhold scrambles nicely and gets back to his feet. Rockhold lands a punch and then is back to the center of the Octagon.
jab from Costa. Front kick to the body from Rockhold. Now a question mark kick from him. Three body kicks from Rockhold as Costa smiles.
Rockhold’s nose is bleeding though and his mouth is open. Costa presses Rockhold into the cage. Rockhold attempts a trip takedown without success. Back to striking range and Costa lands to the body hard with a kick.
Rockhold with a punch. Costa with a body kick as the round ends. Rockhold very tired looking as he puts his hands on his knees and then goes slowly over to his corner with his hands on his head.
Rockhold still has his hands on his knees before the round begins. Nice left hand from Rockhold to start the second round though.
Now a left hand and body kick from Rockhold. Costa lands a punch too and Rockhold is in on a takedown attempt. Costa able to escape though and clinches up. Rockhold’s bloodied nose is bothering him as a punch lands to it.
Costa looking to pressure him. Rockhold lands a check hook as Costa is attacking. Rockhold looks absolutely exhausted, but throws a spinning kick to the body.
left hand for Rockhold. He lands another kick. Costa with a body punch. Head kick from Rockhold is blocked. Rockhold puts his hands on his knees. Costa very patient though as he remains mindful of his own cardio.
Rockhold with an eye poke that forces a brief stoppage. Back to it they go. Costa with a body kick and Rockhold still trying to throw kicks too despite his exhaustion.
Costa in close and lands a punch to the body, but then another one lands low below the belt and Rockhold drops and eats a couple more punches before the ref steps in to call for another stoppage.
Rockhold back up and raises his hands to acknowledge the crowd, suggesting he’s going to continue.
After a warning from the ref they continue. Body kick from Rockhold. He looks for a spinning kick but bails out of it. Head kick attempt from Costa.
Spinning back kick attempt from Rockhold. Chopping leg kick from Costa stopped Rockhold in his tracks for a split second.
left hand from Costa grazes the head of Rockhold. Now a thunderous body kick from Costa. Rockhold backed up and Costa fakes a few punches and then does throw a couple as the round ends.
Rockhold’s corner rush over to help him over to his corner afterwards as he continues to look completely spent.
Right hand for Costa. Another body kick for Costa and then a punch that buckles Rockhold for a brief second.
Costa looking to attack again, but Rockhold connects with a punch and Costa staggers backwards and falls to the mat. Rockhold chases him down to the mat but Costa is able to scramble back to his feet.
Costa attacks again with punches. Rockhold still swinging though and lands a left hand. Costa again lands with punches. Rockhold with a big connection that backs up Costa for a moment.
Rockhold threatens with a kick. Costa puts his hands behind his back to taunt him. Rockhold trying for a takedown, but it’s Costa who ends up on top in side control.
Costa moving into full mount now. He lands a couple of punches and Rockhold tries to scramble, but Costa takes his back.
Costa with a couple of punches. Rockhold trying to turn into him. He gets to his side, but Costa pulls him back. Rockhold musters up the energy to go for it again and turns into him. Rockhold smearing all the blood from his nose onto Costa’s face, but isn’t able to muster the energy to land offense.
What a weird yet still entertaining fight that was! Rockhold looked exhausted even by late on the first round, yet he continued to be a threat at times with his strikes when he could muster up the energy to throw them. Meanwhile Costa was more composed and landed some heavy strikes at times and did well passing guard on the mat, but never fully took advantage of his opponent’s seemingly empty gas tank.
Nevertheless, Costa still emerges with a clean sweep on the scorecards, winning by unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Afterwards, Rockhold tells Joe Rogan that he’s retiring from the sport, saying he’s too old to keep fighting.