Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will return to the division this July, following a lengthy layoff.
Rockhold (16-5) has been lined up for a fight with ex-title challenger Paulo Costa (13-2), per multiple reports. Brazilian outlet Combate first broke news of the pairing, but had initially reported an August date. A more recent report by ESPN puts the date on July 30, 2022 — which is the date of UFC 277, the promotion’s second PPV card in July.
A former Strikeforce and UFC champion, Rockhold has been out of action since an ill-fated move to light heavyweight in 2019 that saw him knocked out by Jan Blachowicz. While the loss has aged somewhat gracefully given Blachowicz went on to become champion, it was the second straight setback for Rockhold.
It also marked his third knockout loss in four fights. Rockhold won the UFC’s middleweight title by shocking Chris Weidman back in 2015, but suffered a shocking defeat himself at the hands of Michael Bisping the following year. A win over David Branch followed, then losses to Yoel Romero and Blachowicz.
Costa has lost back-to-back fights, after starting his career a perfect 13-0. Most recently, he came up short against Marvin Vettori, losing a unanimous decision last October. Prior to that, the Brazilian was downright humiliated in a title fight with Israel Adesanya, winding up finished in the second round — after which Adesanya mimicked a sex act involving a fallen Costa.
No location has been announced for July 30’s UFC 277 as of yet.