MMA

UFC Fight Night 116 In Pittsburgh: Branch Vs. Rockhold Preview

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns for the third time since 2011 to the City of Bridges Saturday, Sept. 16 with a five-round main event between ranked middleweights, No. 3 Luke Rockhold (15-3-0) and No. 9 David Branch (21-3-0). UFC Fight Night 116 at PPG Paints Arena airs live on Fox Sports 1.

Rockhold, 32, is a former Strikeforce and UFC Middleweight champion and has 10 first-round finishes in his career. The 6-foot-3 warrior from Santa Cruz, CA has a 77-inch reach and owns eight wins by submission to go along with five knockouts. Some experts view Rockhold as the superior striker with a better submission offense.

Ariel Helwani spoke with Rockhold on the MMA Hour about facing Branch,  “Branch is a good fighter, I think he just questions himself. You can’t question yourself at this level. 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.”

Branch excelled outside of UFC by winning and defending titles in two different weight divisions with the World Series of Fighting promotion. The 35-year-old from the Bronx, NY is 6-foot-1 and has an 81-inch reach. His record shows seven triumphs by submission in addition to five knockouts. A few of the pundits think Branch may have the stronger takedown offense.

Helwani talked to Branch on the MMA Hour about taking on Rockhold, “He’s going to try and come out to establish his dominance. He’s going to try and run his alpha male sh-t on me and I’m going to shut that sh-t down, obviously.”

For the octagon watchers at both the Bovada Online Sportsbook and the Westgate Sportsbook in Las Vegas, the line on Wednesday, Sept. 13 favors Rockhold with 2/9 odds. I am going to say Rockhold picks up the victory with a technical knockout in the fourth.

Remainder Of FS1 Main Card – 10:00 p.m.ET:

WelterweightAlex Reyes (12-2-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) of Victorville, CA Vs. Mike Perry (10-1-0) from Flint, MI

UPDATE: Per John Morgan at MMAJunkie.com, Thiago Alves withdrew from the match Wednesday afternoon for unknown reasons.

UPDATE #2: MMAJunkie.com‘s Steven Marrocco reports Alex Reyes is taking the challenge to face Perry.

MiddleweightHector Lombard (34-7-1) from Matanzas, Cuba Vs. Anthony Smith (27-12-0) from Corpus Christi, TX

LightweightGregor Gillespie (9-0-0) from Rochester, NY Vs. Jason Gonzalez (11-3-0) from Torrance, CA

Welterweight – #13-Ranked Kamaru Usman (10-1-0) from Auchi, Nigeria Vs. Sergio Moraes (12-3-1) from São Paulo Brasil

HeavyweightJustin Ledet (8-0-0) from Rosharon, TX Vs. Zu Anyanwu (14-4-0) from Trenton, NJ

FS1 Prelims – 8:00 p.m.ET:

LightweightTony Martin (12-3-0) from Palos Heights, IL Vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2-0) from Montreal, Quebec, Canada

HeavyweightAnthony Hamilton (15-7-0) from Kent, WA Vs. Daniel Spitz (5-1-0) from Spokane, WA

Middleweight – #10-Ranked Krzysztof Jotko from Orneta, Poland (19-2-0) Vs. #14-Ranked Uriah Hall (13-8) from Spanish Town, Jamaica

BantamweightFelipe Arantes (18-7-1) from Sao Paulo Brazil Vs. Luke Sanders (11-1-0) from Brenham, TX

UFC FightPass Early Prelims – 7:30 p.m.ET:

LightweightGilbert Burns (11-2-0) from Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Vs. Jason Saggo (12-3-0) from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

For any new information, changes, or added bouts for this event, please visit www.ufc.com. You can look into ticket information here. All matches are subject to change.

From The Clipboard: Coming up on Thursday, fans can be present for open workouts at Stout Training, at 1600 Smallman Street in the Burgh. After the athletes work out, there will be a 30-minute meeting with the media by each fighter. It begins with Perry at 11:30 a.m., followed by Branch, Alves, and Rockhold.

Back in Feb. 2016, the announced attendance in Pittsburgh was 7,330 while it was a bit higher in June 2011 at 7,792. Can the Mixed Martial Arts fans in and around the Steel City push the figure over 8,000 this time?

Video From UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship On YouTube.com – UFC Fight Night Countdown: Rockhold vs Branch…

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