Luke Rockhold takes on David Branch in the main event at UFC Fight Night 116 on Saturday, September 16 in Pittsburgh on FS1. Rockhold is a former UFC middleweight champion who comes into this fight with a record of 15-3, while Branch is 21-3 and on an 11-fight winning streak. This bout is one of five on the main card that can be seen on FS1. There are also five preliminary bouts, with four on FS1 and one on UFC Fight Pass. Let’s look at the card with a focus on Rockhold vs. Branch and UFC picks.
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Luke Rockhold -400 vs. David Branch
Rockhold had done virtually everything right in his career before last year when he lost the middleweight title to Michael Bisping. Rockhold was 15-2 before that fight in June of last year and he was coming off a win against Chris Weidman for the title. The success for Rockhold ended at UFC 199 in June of last year, as he was knocked out by Bisping in the first round. Rockhold has not fought since losing to Bisping, so the layoff is definitely a concern.
Branch dominated in World Series of Fighting, going 10-0 in his five years there. He came to the UFC earlier this year and won a split decision against Krzysztof Jotko in what was not a pretty fight. Branch was not impressive at all in the win and Rockhold noticed. “Branch is a good fighter, I think he just questions himself,” Rockhold said on The MMA Hour. “You can’t question yourself at this level.”
Rockhold said on The MMA Hour that he is going to punish Branch. “I’m going to eat him up. I’m going to push him to that breaking point, and he’s going to feel the pressure. He can’t keep up with me. You can’t think you’re going to do something. You have to know. I see Branch, he questions himself. He’s good everywhere, he’s a third-degree black belt, he’s a decent boxer, but there’s questions in his head, and it’s time for me to go make those a little more doubtful as the rounds go on.”
Rockhold said to FloCombat that he has been ready to fight for a while. "I'm ready to fight and have been for quite some time. [The UFC] has been delaying me because they couldn't find an opponent who would fight me.” Rockhold said he is very confident in getting the win on Saturday. "I'm going to prove who I really am when I come back. People want to talk and doubt me, and they can think whatever they want. I'll show who I really am and what I can do shortly."
The price on Rockhold is high at -400 but Rockhold really looks like he outclasses Branch all the way around. Although Rockhold should win, I don’t like to lay this type of number so I think the better option is to take the rounds to go under the total.
In the other four main event bouts I lean toward Alves vs. Perry, Gillespie over Gonzalez, Usman over Moraes and Ledet over Sosnovskiy.
UFC Fight Night 116 takes place on Saturday, September 16 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are six bouts on the main card on FS1 featuring Luke Rockhold vs. David Branch, and there are five fights on the preliminary card, with four on FS1 and one on UFC Fight Pass.
Main Card (FS1)
Luke Rockhold vs. David Branch
Mike Perry vs. Thiago Alves
Gregor Gillespie vs. Jason Gonzalez
Kamaru Usman vs. Sergio Moraes
Justin Ledet vs. Dmitriy Sosnovskiy
Preliminary Card (FS1)
Tony Martin vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Anthony Hamilton vs. Daniel SpitzKrzysztof Jotko vs. Uriah Hall
Luke Sanders vs. Felipe Arantes
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Jason Saggo vs. Gilbert Burns
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