Luke Rockhold set foot in the octagon for the last time at UFC 278 after an epic war with Paulo Costa that ended with the one-time middleweight champion dropping a unanimous decision and then announcing his retirement.
UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier, who considers Rockhold one of his closest friends and teammates, called the action along with Jon Anik and Joe Rogan, but left his broadcast position to hug the 37-year-old veteran as he walked away after the fight.
Afterwards, Cormier praised Rockhold for leaving everything he had in the cage, in what was a fitting end to an incredibly successful career.
“My boy Luke Rockhold is fighting the last fight of his career and you know what? I can’t say I’m not disappointed,” Cormier said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. “Because skill-wise he looked like he had a ton left, but his cardio, his posture, the way he looked in there, tells me it’s time for my boy to run away. So I ran up to him and gave him a big hug.”
It was an emotional moment for Cormier as he watched Rockhold call it a career after essentially growing up together in the training room of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California.
Speaking about Rockhold’s achievements, Cormier showed a photo that showed him along with three of his teammates – all of whom had UFC titles but are now retired.
“Hats off to my boy Luke,” Cormier said. “Guys, I hope you enjoy it while we were there. I’m always talking about enjoying fighters while you have them. Because you never know when they’re gone.
“I was sent this photo and now we’re all gone. You look at this photo and it’s Khabib Nurmagomedov, myself, Luke Rockhold and Cain Velasquez and if you look at the carriage to the right, to Cain’s left, it’s dead. Cain is in prison. We had some really great times at the American Kickboxing Academy and the finals of the guys we called the Four Kings bow before the fans tonight in what I think was a fairytale ending for Luke Rockhold.
While Rockhold deservedly received a lot of attention after one last memorable outing, Cormier also gave Costa high praise for winning the fight in what turned out to be a grueling affair as both fighters faced exhaustion thanks to the high altitude in Salt Lake City.
Costa won the fight with identical 30-27 scorecards across the board as the one-time middleweight title challenger got back on track after dropping his last two games in a row.
“Let’s give credit to Paulo Costa, because he was dealing with an absolute wild man there,” Cormier said. Luke wasn’t the technical striker you get to know. Luke wasn’t the guy who would tear Paulo Costa apart. Luke was a madman and Paulo Costa not only stood there, but he beat him 30-27. Luke didn’t take any lap of Paulo Costa.
“So for all the credit we’re going to give Luke Rockhold, Paulo Costa won the fight and he won the fight by getting away. He struggled very effectively. I couldn’t believe how easily he could pass Luke’s guard and then hit Luke multiple times.” But he was also able to cope with the madness that grew around him regarding the fight itself.”
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