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Morning Report: Luke Rockhold believes a win at UFC 278 will earn him a title shot: ‘I’m not going to do anything else’

UFC 221 Weigh-ins
Luke Rockhold
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Luke Rockhold believes that a good performance over Paulo Costa will get him a middleweight title shot.

This Saturday, Rockhold takes on Costa in the co-main event of UFC 278. It will be the former middleweight champion’s first fight in over three years, since losing to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239, and his first middleweight bout in over four. But despite his long absence from the sport and from the division, Rockhold believes that a win over Costa, currently the No. 6-ranked middleweight in the UFC’s rankings, will be good enough to get him another shot at the 185-pound championship.

“Next,” Rockhold told Helen Yee when asked how soon he believes he could fight for the championship. “I’m not going to do anything else. If I don’t get it, they don’t get it.”

Rockhold won the UFC middleweight title at UFC 194 back in 2015, but after taking the belt, his career took a precipitous downturn. He lost the title to Michael Bisping just six months later, rebounded with a win over David Branch, then got knocked out by Yoel Romero in an interim title fight in 2018. Rockhold then tried a move up to light heavyweight, but was again knocked out in the aforementioned Blachowicz fight. Still, as a former champion and with the current state of the middleweight division, Rockhold could be right that a win can catapult him into a title shot, it’s just a matter of against whom? Current champion Israel Adesanya is set to defend his title against kickboxing rival Alex Pereira at UFC 281, and Rockhold isn’t entirely sure who will come out of that one with the belt.

“It just depends on how Israel fights,”Rockhold said. “If Israel tries to fight him — because he’s in his head. If he’s in his head and you let guys get in your head — he lost to him in a close one and then he got clipped in the second one because he let him get in his head. He was in his head. You can see he was in his head. So if Israel let’s him get in his head this time around, that’s interesting. Israel’s got to check himself and he’s got to fight MMA. We all know Alex Pereira sucks on the ground. Even Israel could probably f****** put him away on the ground. This kid’s dangerous as hell on the feet, so it all depends on Israel, what his head space is and how he fights it.”

But before Rockhold goes counting his chickens, he has his own fight to worry about. Costa is a former middleweight title challenger who finds himself similarly positioned with his back against the wall. Costa got knocked out by Adesanya at UFC 253 and then dropped a unanimous decision to Marvin Vettori last October. Another loss could be disastrous for Costa’s career, and so he looks to be in phenomenal shape heading into this fight, but according to Rockhold, it’s simply a matter of himself. Rockhold believes that if he fights up to his potential, everything will take care of itself.

“I’m not looking to do anything but just to be myself,” Rockhold said. “When I go outside myself you see what happens, I have s*** performances. When I’m relaxed and I have confidence in myself and I’m just happy and have fun, that’s when you see the Luke Rockhold that everyone really came to love in the first place. These last few years, four or five years, it’s not really been me, and you can see the shift...

“So for me, just being myself, relaxing, finding my openings. I think this guy knows he’s got to come for me, and I’m going to hurt him every time he comes, and I’m going to put him down.”

UFC 278 takes place this Saturday at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.


Results. Marlon Vera knocked out Dominick Cruz in the fourth round at UFC San Diego.

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Results. Goiti Yamauchi knocked out Neiman Gracie with an uppercut at Bellator 284.

Farewell. Rory MacDonald announces retirement after 2022 PFL Playoffs exit.

Shade. Marlon Vera: Dominick Cruz’s signature approach ‘very low level’ and ‘not the best style for MMA’.

Farewell Also. Nina Nunes explains UFC retirement, hopes for second daughter with Amanda Nunes.

Politics. B.J. Penn garners less than 25 percent of vote in Hawaii primary election loss for Republican governor.


UFC San Diego Post Show.

Paddy Pimblett says he’s already back up to 200 pounds.

UFC 278 Countdown.

PFL highlights.

Paddy Pimblett giving back to the children.


On To The Next One. Matches to make following UFC San Diego.


Farewell appreciation.



Din Thomas.

It doesn’t matter. It’s a clear conflict, and in any other sport, someone in DC’s position would simply recuse themselves from the booth for the bout.


Bo Nickal (2-0) vs. Donovan Beard (7-1); Contender Series, Sept. 27.

Josh Fremd (9-3) vs. Tresean Gore (3-2); UFC Fight Night, Oct. 29.

Derek Brunson (23-8) vs. Jack Hermansson (23-7); UFC Fight Night, Dec. 3.


Thanks for reading! See y’all tomorrow.



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