After spending nearly two years away from the Octagon, the former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion returned to action against top-ranked 185-pound fighter Paulo Costa. For the past few years, a cloud had covered Rockhold’s career. Specifically, many in the MMA world suspected that Rockhold’s chin could no longer hold up against the elite.
He had been knocked out in three of his past four fights, so going into the UFC 278 fight with a man known as “The Eraser,” Rockhold was the clear underdog.
However, Rockhold reminded everyone watching of his championship mettle. He took everything Costa had to offer and delivered his own punishing blows over the course of three rounds. Although Rockhold lost the fight via unanimous decision, he had shown what he was made of, erasing the narrative that plagued his career for so many years.
In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, an emotional Rockhold announced his retirement to the sold-out crowd at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Bisping Sent His Best Wishes to Rockhold, Said They Would Have Got Along if They Met ‘Under Different Circumstances
Bisping took to his YouTube channel to react to Rockhold leaving his gloves inside the Octagon.
“I wish you all the best in retirement, Luke. I really, really do mean that,” Bisping said via MMA Fighting. “I know we had some back and forths over the years, but it was just competitive. Just rivals, sporting rivals. I’m sure if we met under different circumstances — in fact, I always said this — I’m sure we’d get along. We’ve got some mutual friends and Jason Parillo thinks the world of you as well. So congratulations in what you do.”
“The Count” is the man responsible for dethroning Rockhold, knocking him out at UFC 199 in June 2016. They had met two years prior to that and the American defeated Bisping via second-round guillotine choke.
Bisping Said Rockhold Is ‘Underappreciated’ By Many in the MMA World
All in all, Rockhold has a professional mixed martial arts record of 16-6, boastins wins over the likes of Bisping, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Tim Kennedy. The 37-year-old combatant won the UFC 185-pound strap in 2015 by taking out Weidman.
He was also the Strikeforce middleweight champion. Rockhold earned the belt in 2011 when he beat Jacare and the American went on to defend it twice before moving on to the UFC.
Bisping continued with his thoughts on Rockhold, stating that his rival was “underappreciated” and making the case why he shouldn’t be.
“Luke, I do believe is underappreciated by a lot of people,” Bisping said. “The run that he had, the career that he had, Strikeforce champion, UFC champion, always a top contender, always in big fights, always took on the best challenges.
“I mean look at that, he just came back after three years of being away and took on Paulo Costa, one of the toughest guys in the division, one of the top guys, one of the hardest hitting and one of the hardest hitting with the best chins. There’s not a lot of people queueing up to take on that guy when they’ve been out of the Octagon for three years…
“To go out there and lose three of your last four, all by knockout, to then go and take three years away from the sport and come back and go right in, co-main event, in a pay-per-view, against Paulo Costa, an absolute killer, that tells you the measure of the man. That tells you what the man is made of and what he thinks of himself and the kind of challenges and risks he’s willing to take…
“So Luke, whatever you’re going to do in retirement, mate, enjoy. You had a fantastic career. I think people still don’t give him the credit that he was due, but I do.”