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:
Yoel Romero and David Branch agreed to fight each other on Twitter, and now it’s official.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>
Georges St-Pierre's coach is continuing to call for a historical match-up between his charge and Conor McGregor. read news >>
It sounds like UFC President Dana White isn’t on board with a potential Conor McGregor vs. Georges St-Pierre super fight in the future.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>
David Branch was understandably upset that arguably the biggest fight of his career has been scratched in the middle of training camp. read news >>
UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes on Sunday appeared at a UFC event for the first time since his June 2017 car accident. read news >>
Stop it if you’ve heard this before: UFC champ Tyron Woodley and UFC President Dana White disagree on matchmaking. read news >>
Tune in Wednesday at 3:30 pm ET, for Knockout Radio LIVE! as the crew previews UFC 220 and discusses Luke Rockhold, Jon Jones, and all the latest MMA news. read news >>
Join Knockout Radio for their Jan. 17 podcast as the crew previews UFC 220, discusses Luke Rockhold and Jon Jones, and covers all the latest MMA news. read news >>
UFC 221 has just suffered a major loss. Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been forced out of the main event due to an undisclosed injury. With Whittaker out, the UFC has decided to move forw read news >>
Robert Whittaker is “beyond disappointed” about pulling out of UFC 221. read news >>