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:
UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping said he had agreed to defend his belt against Robert Whittaker or Yoel Romero. read news >>
UFC middleweight champ Michael Bisping accused ex-welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre of picking fights, while countering his own critics who say he dodges rightful contenders. Filed under: Featured read news >>
Michael Bisping joined Conan last night to discuss his upcoming fight against Georges St-Pierre and much more! Bisping will attempt to defend his middleweight belt for the second time as he and St-Pi read news >>
If Georges St-Pierre defeats Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight belt in November, don't be surprised if he calls out Conor McGregor. read news >>
In this UFC 216 Free Fight, Kevin Lee stops Jake Matthews in the second win of his current five-fight win streak. read news >>
Freddie Roach, who is training Georges St-Pierre in his comeback bid, hinted Thursday in an interview with TMZ Sports that the former welterweight champion could clash with Conor McGregor when he ret read news >>
Georges St-Pierre boldly guarantees he will beat Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title after four years away.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>
It took Michael Bisping 20 or 30 minutes of needling and placing hands on Georges St-Pierre, but he finally got the reaction that he wanted out of him. read news >>
Former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre stepped away from the sport after defending the 170-pound title nine consecutive times in November 2013. read news >>
Michael Bisping was trying with all his might to get a reaction out of Georges St-Pierre at their UFC 217 Kick-off Press Conference on Friday. read news >>