Deporte

Luke Rockhold burns arguably the greatest fighter ever following victorious return

Luke Rockhold burns arguably the greatest fighter ever following victorious return

Branch employed heavy pressure, did all he could to capitalize - FightMetric showed him outlanding the favorite by a 36-19 margin in the first round - and seemed to have the Californian reeling with a flurry of power punches inside the first five minutes.

Last June, Luke Rockhold defended the UFC middleweight championship against Michael Bisping.

Branch began very aggressively, initially catching Rockhold off guard. Rockhold doesn't consider St. Pierre a legitimate contender for the title and said he'll stay ready to fight in November if the Canadian former champ backs out. But after a 16-month layoff that included a knee injury, Rockhold again feels ready to challenge for the title. Towards the end of the round, Rockhold scored a takedown of his own, but it probably wasn't enough to wrest the round away from Branch. Perry (11-1) was able to get Reyes - who was added on short notice this past week after Thiago Alves pulled out with travel issues - in a Muay Thai clinch and finished him off seconds later.

Earlier on Saturday, Gilbert Burns beat Jason Saggo with a second-round knockout. "I felt if I got my bearings in the second round I would take control no matter where it goes". As evidenced in his fight with Weidman, Rockhold skills on the ground are formidable even against accomplished grapplers.

In his post-fight interview on Saturday, Rockhold sent a message to St-Pierre.

In his first match since June 2016 Rockhold forced Branch to submit at UFC Fight Night 116
In his first match since June 2016 Rockhold forced Branch to submit at UFC Fight Night 116

The first round was up in the air, but the 32-year-old ensured there'd be no need for the judges' scorecards. "This is my fight".

Please note that TheJournal.ie uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising.

The heavily favored Rockhold has plenty to gain from a win in the Steel City. Gillespie worked his way into an arm-triangle-choke, and after fighting the choke for several moments, Gonzalez had to tap. Branch caught a kick and landed a right hand.

Bisping is still champion.

Which, come to think of it, might be a real bad thing for the rest of the UFC's middleweight division. Branch turned over and Rockhold proceeded to fire down blows from above. The winner moves forward at 185, a feat that has never been more important in the division.