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Paulo Costa says UFC offered him ‘worst’ option Luke Rockhold

Middleweight Paulo Costa explains why he is not too excited to take on former champion Luke Rockhold.

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UFC middleweight Paulo Costa does not know when he is coming back to the Octagon, but when he does, the Brazilian would prefer it if he could face another ranked athlete.

In an interview with Ag Fight, Costa revealed that the UFC offered him a match against former champion Luke Rockhold, but the Brazilian was not too excited about the possibility. In fact, Paulo says he would only take the pairing if nobody else were available. Despite being on a two-fight losing skid, that’s how adamant ‘Borrachinha’ is about facing ranked competition.

“Luke Rockhold has shown an interest in fighting me, but he’s not ranked. I don’t know if that would be the best option. That’s unfortunate, because if he were ranked, that would be a great fight. I don’t think it’s too smart to fight someone who’s not ranked. The rankings are the foundation for everything. The UFC offered me this fight. They have the obligation to do so. It’s in the contract. They offered me Rockhold. I didn’t dismiss it entirely. I said I’d prefer to face someone ranked. Worst case scenario, if there’s nobody else, we fight.”

In Costas’s opinion, to take someone dangerous and out of the rankings is a high-risk and low reward scenario for him. To drive his point home, Paulo used the fight between Gilbert Burns and Khamzat Chimaev as an example.

“If he comes back to the rankings, then I’d take the fight. He’s popular, especially in America. That’s a pro. Him not being ranked is a big con. Let me give you an example. Gilbert Burns was the number-two guy and he gave Chimaev an opportunity. He lost. Now where is Burns going? Which spot? Is he going to drop many spots? He’s already down to number four. He might drop more. So fighting an unranked guy is even worse.”

Currently on a two-fight losing skid, Costa (13-2) dropped a unanimous decision to Marvin Vettori in his last outing, back in October 2021. Before that, the 30-year-old got TKO’d by champion Israel Adesanya, in September 2020. The Brazilian’s last win happened in August 2019, when he beat Yoel Romero by unanimous decision.