Former title challenger, Paulo Costa looks to stake his claim for another shot at UFC gold as he takes on returning former UFC Middleweight Champion, Luke Rockhold at UFC 278 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.
Luke Rockhold is an underdog in Saturday’s co-main event. He is currently holding a record of 16-5 and has not stepped in the octagon since July 2019. Since his title loss against Michael Bisping back in June 2016, he has only managed to bag one victory out of three fights. The losses came against one of the good hard hitters in UFC, Yoel Romero and Jan Blachowicz. His all-career losses have come by knockout which might be a big advantage for the former title challenger, Paulo Costa.
The Brazilian was bossing in the cage and was on 13 fight win streak before he suffered back-to-back losses. He lost the title fight to the UFC middleweight king Israel Adesanya via TKO in the 2nd round at UFC 253 and Marvin Vettori in his last fight. Costa is currently 13-2 and is the favorite to win the fight as he owns great striking capabilities. But Smith thinks Rockhold is more skilled than Costa and just must tighten up defensively to avoid the Brazilian’s power shots.
Smith said in an interview with James Lynch. “Luke Rockhold’s problem is not that he is not good enough to be at the top of the division because he is – and that same goes for 185 and 205. He is that good. His issue has always been his defense and pulling out of shots with his chin up.’’
“I hope that he’s fixed that because if he has, he can avoid taking anything big. I don’t see where Paulo Costa wins this fight. I don’t see how. Luke’s too good on his feet. I’ve said this time and time again. I’ve heard the horror stories of Luke Rockhold grappling. That guy is goddamn good from what I hear. … If he can avoid taking a big shot from Paulo Costa, honestly, as silly as it sounds, he might make it look easy.”
You got to agree on this with Smith. Luke Rockhold is excellent when comes to trapping an opponent on the ground. If he manages to take his opponent down, you are in trouble. He has already been trained by the high-profile coach Javier Mendez at AKA along with UFC Hall of Famers Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier.
Both will be looking to bounce back from the heavy defeats and put out a notice for the current champion Israel Adesanya as he prepares to face Alex Pereira at UFC 281. Most likely, Adesanya will be watching out for Rockhold as he has already defeated Paulo Costa. Rockhold vs Costa was meant to happen at UFC 277 first but had to wait a little longer to settle their grudge as UFC decided to move it to UFC 278. The reason behind is still unknown but most probably it was Costa’s contract issue and his struggle related to weight cuts. What do you guys think about who is going to stand top? Let us know in the comment who you will be cheering for.