Paulo Costa reacted to a «very weird moment» in his fight against Luke Rockhold at UFC 278, with the former middleweight champion rubbing blood on the Brazilian in their bout in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
As the two men grappled on the octagon floor at the Vivint Arena, Rockhold, who was on top of Costa, smeared his own blood on the mouth and face of the ‘The Eraser’ with seconds to spare.
Though the bout was what UFC president Dana White described as a «dog fight» later, Costa cruised to a 30-27 unanimous decision win over the one-time 185lb division ruler.
Online, fans and fighters reacted to the «weirdest fight I’ve ever seen» on social media with Terrance McKinney saying that Rockhold «just did some psycho rockstar sh*t».
«Why was he just rubbing blood all over him, wtf,» asked Ben Askren. «Never seen that before,» he added.
Backstage at the post-event press conference, Costa continued the theme by calling the scene a «very weird moment».
Rockhold just did some psycho rockstar shit and smeared his blood all over Paulos face🔥🔥
— Terrance ‘T Wrecks’ McKinney (@twrecks155) August 21, 2022
Why was he just rubbing blood all over him, wtf. Never seen that before.
— Funky (@Benaskren) August 21, 2022
«I didn’t see it in the moment of the fight,» Costa claimed. «I just felt something on my face, but I was so worried about blocking his arms to not get elbowed in the face and punched. But I felt something.
«Now, when I saw [it], it’s a very disgusting scene. It’s a very weird moment,» he went on.
«I saw the moment where [Yoel] Romero kisses [Rockhold] after beating him, as well,» Costa also said.
«That was the weirdest moment that I had seen, but this beat that moment. I don’t know why Luke did that.
«Maybe he was so frustrated and angry because he was losing. But I took a very long shower after the fight,» Costa revealed, trolling both Rockhold and his middleweight rivals by sharing photos of the smearing incident and other strange moments in the division’s recent history on Twitter.
When I started training for MMA that was very different moment 😂 I really don’t know what’s happening 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/ZWMlMspyqi
— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) August 21, 2022
Elsewhere, however, there were mostly shows of respect for Rockhold, who announced his retirement from the sport in an octagon interview with Joe Rogan following the loss.
«I’ve been through so much the last few years. Thank you, fighting. Thank you UFC. Thank you, Joe. I f***ing can’t do it anymore. I gave it my all and I just didn’t… I’m f***ing old,» the Californian confessed.
With current heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and ex-gym partner and former light heavyweight and heavyweight king Daniel Cormier leading the tributes, even president Dana White paid his dues to the combatants despite his constant clashes with them often over fighter pay.
«He is entitled to his own opinions and his own you know, whatever it is that went on this week,» White began, in reference to a rant from Rockhold over paid healthcare for UFC fighters.
«But let me tell you what, I’ll never say anything about him, I totally respect him and after that war tonight, normal humans like us that are sitting in this room have no idea what those two went through tonight in that Octagon and we never will, thank f****g God,» White stressed.
Though Rockhold has now hung up his gloves, Costa might be on the verge of free agency while unsure whether his contract has expired or if it has another fight left on it.
White showed an interest in resigning the 31-year-old, but Costa is still some way away from another shot at the title after being humbled in 2020 by its current holder Israel Adesanya.