Former UFC middleweight champion hangs up gloves after Paulo Costa loss

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Luke Rockhold lost his first fight in three years before ending his career (Getty Images)

Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold retired from mixed martial arts this weekend, delivering an emotional post-fight speech after losing to Paulo Costa.

Rockhold, fighter for the first time in three years, lost to the Brazilian via unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC 278 on Saturday. Rockhold, 37, looked tired for much of the three-round contest but still produced some entertaining moments in what was an exhilarating and bloody fight.

One viral moment even saw the American, on top of Costa in an exchange of strikes, rubbing his own bloody face into his opponent’s.

After his loss, a tearful Rockhold told UFC commentator Joe Rogan, “I’ve been through so much in the last few years.

“I f *** ing … Thank you, I fight; thanks, UFC; thank you, joe.

“I can’t do this shit anymore. I gave it my all, I just didn’t… I’m old.

Rockhold staining his own blood on Paulo Costa's face (Getty Images)

Rockhold staining his own blood on Paulo Costa’s face (Getty Images)

Prior to UFC 278, Rockhold last competed in 2019, moving up to light heavyweight and suffering a knockout loss to eventual champion Jan Blachowicz. This result marked Rockhold’s third KO loss in four fights.

The first of those stoppage losses came to Michael Bisping in 2016. The result saw Bisping become the first ever British UFC champion while avenging an earlier submission loss to Rockhold.

Coincidentally, Leon Edwards became the second UFC British champion in the main event of UFC 278 on Saturday, knocking out Kamaru Usman with a stunning header in the final minute.

Rockhold pictured just seconds after stopping Chris Weidman to become champion in 2015 (Getty Images)

Rockhold pictured just seconds after stopping Chris Weidman to become champion in 2015 (Getty Images)

Rockhold, who captured the UFC middleweight title with a TKO win over fellow fighter Chris Weidman in 2015, is retiring with a 16-6 professional record.

The former Strikeforce champion has worked as a role model between fights for the past few years.

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