Luke Rockhold is a changed man heading into his upcoming bout with Paulo Costa at UFC 278 on Aug. 20, 2022, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The former UFC Middleweight champion has been out of action since a tough knockout loss to Jan Blachowicz in his Light Heavyweight debut at UFC 239 in July 2019. Overall, it’s been tough sledding for Rockhold inside (and outside) of the Octagon since he held the title in early 2016.
“I know it’s not a popular subject right now, but I did have an abortion, and I did have a big break up,” Rockhold told MMA Junkie. “There was a lot committed in trying to — you know, I’m 37 and wanting that, needing that and then it all falling apart, it hurt. It definitely was a big turning point in realizing where my life was and where I’m going. Having a kid on the way and prepping for that and carrying the weight of the kid and another, it weighs on you, to where you want to put yourself in that place later in life. Having to make that decision, a lot of things just weren’t right. There wasn’t a lot of truth on both sides, on either side, and it just f—ked me up.
“And it made me f—king transition and change my life for the better,” he added. “Ever since then really, I’ve been sober. I think Super Bowl weekend was that, and the week after was sobriety.”
Rockhold defeated Chris Weidman for UFC’s 185-pound title at UFC 194 in Dec. 2015 before dropping it in a rematch to Michael Bisping the following June. He’s won one fight against David Branch along with two losses to Yoel Romero and the aforementioned Blachowicz in the meantime.
Hoping to return sooner than this coming August, Rockhold was booked to face rising contender, Sean Strickland, at UFC 268 on Nov. 2021, but was forced to withdraw with an injury. Now matched with Costa, the fight has already been pushed back one month from its originally planned date of July 30 in Dallas, Texas, for UFC 277.
“So, I want what I want, and I want it all,” Rockhold said. “That was that. I want this f—king thing, and every part of me wants this, and I’m not going to do anything that’s going to compromise that come that day. I’ll do more than Paulo Costa, and I’ll do more leading up to that point, and I’ll do more in the cage. And I’ll keep doing more after.
“There’s an easy fight, and there’s a hard fight,” he continued. “I really, truly think I can make this fight look easy. If I go out there and fight present — not focused on anything else and just letting myself go and I get that flow state — I’m going to smoke this fool. He’s too tit-for-tat. He’s too bulky. He looks for breaks, and if I just take myself and execute, I’m going to finish him. He wants to go kick for kick from the outside — he can’t reach me from the outside. And he’s f—ked if we go to the ground.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 278 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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