UFC 278 has brought a close to former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold’s career. In his comeback fight (last fought in 2019), fans were treated to a war of attrition as he and Costa brutalized each other for 3 rounds and put on a performance that seems like the perfect send-off for the former champ.
Not many believed Luke had the “juice” or the chin required to take on such a young and dangerous fighter like Costa considering his last 3 losses were all by KO, but somehow the old dog pulled through and made it dirty and bloody of a fight as possible. The last few seconds showed the will and determination that allowed him to become champ in the first place, as his gas tank was running on empty, but somehow found a way to get to mount, and like something out of a snuff film, he began to smear blood and jab his chin on Costa’s face.
A career that began professionally in 2007, fans saw Luke come into the spotlight fairly quickly as he was signed to Strikeforce with only a 1-1 record. He would impress in every bout going undefeated at 9-0 with the company as well as claiming the middleweight belt from Jacare. From there he would defend it 2 more times against Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy before heading to the UFC.
As a member of AKA, Luke was always training with the best fighters on earth and even served as one of the members of the 4 kings, which included Cain Velasquez, DC, and Khabib. This elevated his game as Luke quickly became one of the best middleweights on earth as he prepared to enter the UFC with a 10-1 record.
While Luke dropped his first UFC bout, it was against one of the scariest fighters of all time in “TRT Vitor”. While it’s hard to consider that KO loss fair due to Vitor juicing to the gills, Luke brushed it off and rifled off 5 straight wins, which included winning the title from Chris Weidman in 2015.
Luke has gone 1-3 since losing the title, as well as going on a 3-year sabbatical from 2019-2022. Luke has earned his spot as a true MMA champion while he may not have had a storybook ending, let’s not forget how brutal and unforgiving of a sport MMA can be. If the fight against Costa is really to be his last, then it was a memorable one and a proper sendoff for a warrior of his level.