The middleweight matchup served as the FS1-televised headliner of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
Branch pushed the pace to start, firing off right hands as he walked forward. Meanwhile, Rockhold tried to retreat to create space and fire in kicks to the body. Branch was relentless in the early going, continually moving forward and not allowing Rockhold space to operate. The two worked from the clinch, battling for position, before Rockhold was able to circle away and move back to the center. Rockhold was effective briefly from range, but Branch was quick to get back into tight range. Rockhold did counter with a late takedown but ran out of time before he could capitalize on the position.
Branch still looked to push forward in the second, though Rockhold was able to keep range in longer spurts and attack with kicks to the leg and body. However, Branch continued to push and did eventually get to the clinch, where he looked to turn the bout into a grinding affair. Rockhold wisely wrapped the body and brought the action to the floor with a slick takedown and a beautifully quick step over into mount. Branch turned to expose his back, and Rockhold staring to tee off. Branch tried to turtle and defend, but Rockhold pummeled away from the back, eventually getting a tap from his opponent with 55 seconds left in the frame.
Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) proved victorious in his first appearance sine ceding the UFC belt to current champ Michael Bisping. Afterward, he had a message for Georges St-Pierre, who faces Bisping at November’s UFC 217, telling the former welterweight champ to step aside for a more deserving contender.
Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) sees an 11-fight winning streak snapped.
UFC Fight Night 116 results include:
David Branch’s hails his setback against Luke Rockhold as a critical career moment ahead of UFC Fight Night 128. read news >>
Check out highlights from David Branch's crushing knockout of Thiago Santos at UFC Fight Night 128 on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J. read news >>
Here’s a stab at decoding Georges St-Pierre’s intentions with a list of his possible targets, including Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. 1 2 3 …4 read news >>
If Tony Ferguson wins at UFC 223, a fight with Conor McGregor would be logical. But it’s not the fight in which he’s most interested. read news >>
The UFC's lightweight division is an absolute mess ahead of UFC 223's Max Holloway vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov bout... read news >>
Our 32-fighter tournament picking the best champions in UFC history is in the books, and you’ve voted for the top titleholder of all time. 1 2 3 4 5 …6 read news >>
The headliners of Saturday's UFC 223 pay-per-view appeared before the media and public during the pre-fight press conference on Wednesday. read news >>
Joanna Jedrzejczykwas defiant about a second loss to UFC women’s strawweight champ Rose Namajunas and believes she’s peerless in her division. read news >>
The UFC lightweight division might be the most talent stacked weight class in the sport but ever since Conor McGregor became champion in 2016, there's been no clear path for new contenders to earn a read news >>
The UFC will make annual stops in Singapore for the next three years. read news >>
Siyar Bahadurzada, David Branch, Ricky Simon and Merab Dvalishvili earned $50,000 bonuses for their performances at UFC Fight Night 128. read news >>
There were a couple clear winners when it came to the UFC Fight Night 128 post-fight bonuses on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J., but the Fight of the Night honor went to a bout shrouded in controvers read news >>
Watch David Branch’s big finish of Thiago Santos at UFC Fight Night 128. read news >>
UFC middleweight David Branch’s new career approach is to leave the past in the past and focus only on the future. read news >>
David Branch Talks UFC AC KO, Derrick Lewis Breaks Down UFC 226 Fight With Francis Ngannou, and a UFC Fight Night Atlantic City Recap read news >>
For all the talk about Floyd Mayweather crossing over into mixed martial arts, former UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey isn't buying it. Rousey, who has a long history engaging in a war read news >>