Former UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold is without a victory at 185lbs since a 2017 submission win over promotional veteran, David Branch, however, believes a UFC 278 win over Paulo Costa this weekend in Salt Lake City will punch his ticket to another title challenge in the division.

Rockhold, who is set to make his first Octagon appearance since a light heavyweight excursion back in July 2019, has been quite vocal with his thoughts on fighter pay in the organization recently, notably voicing his displeasure with the structure of payment as well as post-fight bonuses issued by the UFC.

The former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion was scheduled to return to the Octagon for the first time since his knockout loss to former titleholder, Jan Blachowicz back in November at UFC 268, however, a back injury forced him from a matchup with Sean Strickland.

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Luke Rockhold believes a win over Paulo Costa lands him a title siege

Meeting Brazilian striker, Costa this weekend beneath a welterweight title rematch featuring champion, Kamaru Usman, and Leon Edwards, Rockhold claims he would fight for the middleweight title next should he defeat the Belo Horizonte native at the Vivint Arena. 

“Next,” Luke Rockhold told Helen Yee when asked when he would compete for Octagon gold again. “I’m not going to do anything else. If I don’t get it, they don’t get it.”

Forever touted as a potential disrupter to the reign of middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, Rockhold believes the City Kickboxing staple will need to keep his wits about him ahead of his UFC 281 title headliner with foe, Alex Pereira.

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“It just depends on how Israel (Adesanya) fights,” Luke Rockhold said. “If Israel tries to fight him (Alex Pereira) – because he’s in his head. If he’s in his head and you let guys in your head – he lost to him in a close one and then he got clipped in the second one because he let him get in his head. He was in his head. He was in his head. You can see he was in his head. So if Israel let’s him get in his head this time around, that’s interesting.”

“Israel’s got to know how to check himself and he’s got to fight MMA,” Luke Rockhold explained. “We all know Alex Pereira sucks on the ground. Even Israel could probably f*cking put him away on the ground. The kid’s dangerous as hell on the feet, so it all depends on Israel, what his head space is and how he fights it.” (Transcribed by MMA Fighting)

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Winning the undisputed middleweight championship back in December 2015, Rockhold defeated Chris Weidman before suffering a title loss to rival, Michael Bisping in a UFC 199 rematch the following June, suffering a shocking first round knockout defeat to the Manchester favorite.

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.