UFC 278 is quickly drawing near, and the co-main event players were arguably the most vocal at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference.
While Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards run it back in the PPV card’s main event, it’s former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold and one-time title challenger Paulo Costa who square off in the co-feature. There was no love lost between the pair on Thursday in Salt Lake City, with the two battling over clothes, age, and weight, among other topics.
Asked about returning from a multi-year absence, Rockhold (16-5) exclaimed that things were feeling “better and better” as the fight approached. “Honestly, it feels f*cking good. It feels right.”
Despite Costa holding a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Rockhold also predicted without hesitation that he’d “treat Paulo like a b*tch if it gets to the ground.”
“This guy. This guy, he’s too old to say this kind of sh*t,” Costa fired back. “Come on man. Come on.”
“This motherf*cker didn’t want to take the fight in the first place. The UFC forced it down his throat, then he delayed it twice,” Rockhold later told the media and fans in attendance at the Vivint Arena, alluding to some cosmetic procedures the Brazilian allegedly had done. “Month after month, and all the cosmetic bullsh*t you got done, you little b*tch. Shut up.”
When asked by one reporter if he was surprised at the energy Rockhold was bringing, Costa pointed out that “the energy doesn’t matter on the day of the fight.”
“We’ll be closed in the same cage, me and him. Just me and him. We’ll see who has more energy, who has more power, who has more will to win this fight.”
Costa singled out Rockhold’s age, and clothing, more than once, insinuating that the former champ was dressing to look younger. The ex-champ is 37, Costa himself is 31. Rockhold in turn questioned Costa’s ability to make weight. The last time the Brazilian was in action, he forced his fight with Marvin Vettori to be bumped from middleweight all the way to light heavyweight.
“Are you gonna make weight? Are you gonna make f*cking weight?” Rockhold questioned.
The Brazilian’s response wasn’t what he was looking for: Just another “f*ck you.”
In the intense staredown the followed Thursday’s presser, Dana White could be overheard telling Costa that the Brazilian “scared me” as he took the stage. White was sure to keep his arm between the pair at all times — but there will be nothing separating Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold come Saturday’s UFC 278 co-main event.