UFC 278 results, highlights: Paulo Costa tops Luke Rockhold as former champion smears blood before retiring

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Luke Rockhold, a former middleweight champion who was visibly worn out after a tumultuous opening round, battled Paulo Costa on Saturday to the bitter end and came dangerously close to a dramatic stoppage in the last round.

After a unanimous decision loss against Costa (14-2) with identical judges' scores of 30-27, the 37-year-old Rockhold (16-6) would declare his career over. According to CBS Sports, Costa won the fight 29–28.

The Brazilian heavyweight's loss ended a two-fight losing streak that includes a self-immolation attempt to win Israel Adesanya's 185-pound belt in 2020. But Rockhold soon emerged as the bout's star as he laid his hands on his knees in weariness midway through Round 2 to concede defeat for the third time in a row. This was Rockhold's first fight since 2019.

After the bout, a very upset Rockhold broke down in tears before telling Joe Rogan that, after a successful 15-year career, he had decided to retire.

Over the past three years, I've gone through a lot, Rockhold stated. I appreciate the UFC, but I'm f—-ing done with this garbage. I tried everything, but I'm f—-ing old.

Midway through Round 1, Rockhold was injured by Costa, who repeatedly punched him in the nose with his right hand. Surprisingly, Costa attempted a swift takedown, forcing him to mount. Rockhold rallied for a four-pack of powerful kicks to the body towards the finish.

But By The Time The Five Minutes Were Up, He Was So Worn Out — A Situation That Foreshadowed The One In Which He Would Find Himself After Round 2.

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Rockhold, on the other hand, started to load up on every strike and steadily timed Costa with counterleft hooks and spinning kicks to the body. In Round 2, Rockhold appeared to be in danger of losing before Costa's strike to the crotch allowed him a chance to regroup.

Costa said, "This enthusiasm came through from this audience and it was incredible." "I last engaged in a public brawl in 2019 with [Yoel] Romero. Both that battle and this one were wars."

The third round was the most wild one to yet. Rockhold threw punches poorly and almost overturned twice. Rockhold, however, later exploded with a large left palm that took blood from Costa's swelling face after screaming "f—- you" at Costa.

Rockhold attempted a desperation takedown, but Costa thwarted it. He then threatened to strangle Rockhold from behind, but Rockhold dramatically recovered to change positions and end the round. In the waning seconds, Rockhold even garnered applause by pressing his bleeding face against Costa's skull.

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