UFC President Dana White has dampened Luke Rockhold’s hopes of securing a title shot with a victory over Paulo Costa at UFC 278 this weekend.
In Saturday’s co-main event, set for Salt Lake City, Utah, former middleweight champion Rockhold will make the walk to the Octagon for the first time since 2019. Having suffered back-to-back knockout losses to Yoel Romero and Jan Blachowicz, the Californian will be searching for his first win in five years on August 20.
In his way of that will be a man who certainly boasts KO power in his hands. Prior to a failed title challenge in 2020, Costa had recorded 11 knockouts in 13 wins.
With his opponent’s credentials in mind, Rockhold is targeting big things should he record an upset victory at this weekend’s pay-per-view. During a recent interview with Helen Yee, the 37-year-old insisted that he’ll accept nothing but a title shot should he add the name of “Borrachinha” to his record.
“Next,” Rockhold said when asked how soon he believes he could fight for the belt. “I’m not going to do anything else. If I don’t get it, they don’t get it.”
Unfortunately for Rockhold, he doesn’t appear to have convinced the one man who gets the final say in the matter.
White Dampens Rockhold’s Ambitions
During an interaction with MMA Underground’s John Morgan ahead of his promotion’s next PPV, Dana White discussed Rockhold’s comeback and where the former titleholder is expecting to slot in with a victory.
Given that fact that five names currently sit above Costa in the division, and the manner in which champion Israel Adesanya finished the Brazilian at UFC 253, White clearly isn’t enthused by the idea of the returning veteran fighting for gold next, even branding it an example of classic “Rockhold babble.”
“Paulo Costa’s ranked number six in the world. To say that if he beats Paulo Costa, you know — and he got beat by the champion in 2.3 seconds,” White said. “I mean, this is normal Rockhold babble.”
Having seemingly found his motivation and hunger to compete again, Rockhold has made it clear that he has his sights set on Adesanya and the throne he currently occupies, which Rockhold briefly sat on following a victory over Chris Weidman in 2015.
But with White’s latest comments, it appears that he may need another impressive result after this weekend before securing a spot opposite the champ. Perhaps he’ll be lined up against the victor of the upcoming UFC Paris co-main event between Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori.
Should Rockhold have his hand raised against Costa and stick to his ‘title or nothing’ claim, it’ll be interesting to see where he and the promotion go from there.
Do you believe a win over Paulo Costa would be enough for Luke Rockhold to deserve a title shot?