Luke Rockhold put on a gutsy performance against Paulo Costa, but one couldn’t help but notice how tired the former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion was during the fight.
Rockhold admits that the high altitude of Salt Lake City definitely played a factor in his defeat along with the ultra-conditioned Costa taking him down and breaking his nose in the first round. He was also coming into the fight off a three-year layoff and nursing several injuries to boot.
“I think the altitude definitely played a factor,” Rockhold, who lost to Costa via unanimous decision, told Ariel Helwani during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour (h/t MMA News). “I think my preparation, I was just hitting walls in training, different injures, tearing cartilage with like, an oblique thing. We just tried to put it all out there and hit some roadblocks. I think the altitude definitely played in.”
“I didn’t expect him to get the takedown and to break my nose in the first,” he added. “One of those rabbit punches in the first round broke my nose. I was having to breathe out my mouth, and altitude, and struggling off the bottom, getting through the nerves of everything. I think once I got through that, everything just set in like, ‘F*ck, here we are. Time to fight.’”
Rockhold hinted at and later confirmed his retirement after his UFC 278 loss. The 37-year-old MMA veteran, who holds notable stoppage victories over Michael Bisping, Lyoto Machida, and Chris Weidman, is likely to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame at some point in the future.