Paulo Costa: Luke Rockhold rubbing blood on my face at UFC 278 was ‘very disgusting’


It took a while for UFC middleweight Paulo Costa to understand what Luke Rockhold was doing in the closing seconds of their UFC 278 fight. Once he figured it out, he shared the reaction many had to Rockhold smearing blood on his face.

“I didn’t see it at the time of the fight,” Costa said at the post-fight press conference for Saturday’s pay-per-view event. “I just felt something on my face, but I was so worried that I would block his arms so as not to get punched and punched in the face with elbows. But I felt something.

“When I saw it, it was a very disgusting scene. It’s a very strange moment.”

Costa survived the fight without taking extra elbows. All he had to endure in those final seconds was some of Rockhold’s blood on his face and mouth. A unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 put him back in the victory column after a few octagonal setbacks, including a disastrous title outing against champion Israel Adesanya.

It also gave him a bit of highlight material that he probably preferred not to have.

“I saw the moment when” [Yoel] Romero kisses [Rockhold] after they beat him too,” Costa said. “That was the weirdest moment I’d seen, but this hit that moment. I don’t know why Luke did that. Maybe he was so frustrated and angry because he was losing the battle. But I showered for a long time after the fight.”

Costa didn’t even expect to even make it to the third round in the first place. All the signs Rockhold gave him indicated that he didn’t need judges to make the final verdict. Most of the audience was taken aback when the former middleweight champion mustered the energy to curse him and punch him right in the mouth for their awkward rendezvous in the closing seconds. Still, Rockhold’s toughness was fully apparent after a three-year layoff that raised questions about his longevity in the sport.

“Yeah, I thought when I saw him put his hands on his knees and showed how tired he was, I thought maybe this guy wouldn’t make it to the last minute of the third round,” said Costa. “But somehow he put me there, and maybe I didn’t put a lot of pressure on him. I let him survive a little bit, just taking points lap by lap.”

Lessons learned will allow Costa to move on to the next stage of his career, whatever that may be. The Brazilian isn’t sure if he has another fight on his contract, although he certainly indicated Saturday’s fight would be his last commitment. UFC president Dana White said he wants to re-sign the one-time title challenger.

Next time, Costa will try to finish with some better highlights, wherever he lands.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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