UFC 278: No Guts, No Glory
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
— Updated on 30 January 2023

UFC 278: No Guts, No Glory

— Updated on 30 January 2023
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Leon Edwards may have adopted the nickname “Rocky,” but I’d argue the moniker should be shared with Luke Rockhold after his three-round war against Paulo Costa at UFC 278.

Nobody had any real expectations of the 37-year-old former middleweight champion after his multi-year sabbatical. Especially not against an imposing brawler of Costa’s calibre.

The majority of fight fans had (pre-emptively) called it in favour of Borrachinha via death/KO/TKO. And granted, there were glimpses of such a fate throughout each gruelling round. But in defiance of the widespread assumption his chin was simply no longer, the veteran of 22 professional bouts survived until the very end, going out on his shield.

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Round 1 was about as lopsided as it could get. After an unsuccessful takedown attempt, Rockhold was overwhelmed by a flurry of combinations from Costa (on top of every devastating blow unloaded in the clinch moments earlier). At this stage, Rockhold was already breathing through his mouth, blood pouring out of his nose. Costa, on the other hand, walked through whatever was being thrown his way like a T-800.

During the break preceding Round 2, it looked extremely grim for Luke Rockhold, who couldn’t even bring himself to take a seat on the stool. Hands on knees, panting like a dog, he bit down on his mouthguard and marched forward.

Out of nowhere, Rockhold digs deep and lands a clean body kick before following it up with a goddamn tornado kick — both clean. The round is punctuated by a false alarm when Paulo Costa throws a monstrous uppercut that drops his opponent. As the Brazilian takes a victory lap, referee Mike Beltran clarifies the hostilities were simply paused as said uppercut found its way below the belt.

Round 3. This was it. Do or die. They trade and trade heavy. Luke Rockhold squanders an opportunity to log some control time in top position, later stunning Paulo Costa on a handful of occasions but failing to follow through. Costa continues swangin’ and bangin’. Rockhold surrenders his back when he shoots for a double and Costa sprawls.

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From here, Paulo Costa rides Luke Rockhold, transitioning from side control to mount to 3/4 mount, eventually returning to the back. With 30 seconds left on the clock, Rockhold spins into Costa’s closed guard and smears his blood all over Borrachinha’s face, which is the perfect metaphor: the unanimous decision victory might have gone to the latter, but it certainly wasn’t taken the easy way.

“I gave it my all and I just didn’t… I’m fucking old,” a tearful Luke Rockhold said during his post-fight interview, alluding to retirement.

If this is indeed the end, what a legendary career.


UPDATE: After a surprising performance in Round 1 wherein title challenger Leon Edwards actually managed to take down the P4P fighter and welterweight champion – Kamaru Usman – before threatening to end the UFC 278 main event early with a submission victory via rear-naked choke, as expected, the former would trail behind the latter in the scorecards throughout the next four rounds… until Leon Edwards iced Kamaru Usman cold with a left head kick literally nobody saw coming.

Unbelievable scenes at Salt Lake City’s Vivant Arena.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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