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PITTSBURGH – Luke Rockhold is looking to jump back into the title mix after a successful return from a 15-month layoff in the UFC Fight Night 116 main event.

In his first fight since losing the UFC middleweight title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016, Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) forced David Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) to tap out to strikes in the second round of their bout, which took place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh and aired on FS1.

Rockhold made some strong post-fight statements in the octagon specifically directed at the upcoming 185-pound title fight between Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) and Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) on Nov. 4 at UFC 217. Rockhold believes St-Pierre has no chance of claiming the belt, and for that reason he thinks it’s a pointless matchup.

“I’m not calling ‘GSP’ out wrong. Don’t get it wrong; get it straight,” Rockhold told MMAjunkie. “I’m telling ‘GSP’ to get the (expletive) out of his irrelevant fight. I don’t think he has any chance. I really don’t. I’m just telling you the straight truth. ‘GSP’ is going to get crushed. His game plan will not work against Bisping.

“As much as I don’t like (Bisping), the other guy, he’s going to lose. The takedowns, Bisping is going to scramble. He’s going to get up. The size is going to wear on him. He’s going to outbox him, and he’s probably going to put him away in the later rounds. That’s the fight. It’s going to happen. I’ll bet the house on it. I’ll even (expletive) bet on it.”

Rockhold said part of him believes St-Pierre will withdraw from UFC 217, and if that happens he said he’ll be prepared to step in as a replacement. He’s the last to hold a victory over Bisping, and the pair have a heated rivalry dating back several years.

If the fight does come to fruition, though, Rockhold obviously believes “Rush” poses little threat of winning. If the most unlikely outcome in Rockhold’s mind does happen, however, he doesn’t see any scenario in which St-Pierre agrees to fight him.

“‘GSP,’ if he wins, somehow, some way, because anything can happen in the sport maybe, but he ain’t going to (expletive) fight any of us,” Rockhold said. “There’s no way he fights any of us. That’s the stupidest thing about this fight.”

When looking at options outside of Bisping or St-Pierre, there’s nothing that gets Rockhold’s blood boiling on the same level. He dismissed a rematch with Chris Weidman, and he threw some praise at interim UFC middleweight champ Robbert Whittaker, who is sidelined with injury.

Rockhold is still taking in his first victory since December 2015, and he’s happy he was able to put away Branch with a dominant finish, especially because of the pre-fight trash talk between the two.

“I didn’t say (expletive) (after the finish),” Rockhold said. “I didn’t say a damn thing. But this guy coming at me just trying to belittle me and talk me down like I haven’t done anything, I don’t have a chin, I can’t box. Mother(expletive), shut up.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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