UFC Pittsburgh: Rockhold vs. Branch Preliminary Results and Recap

Gilbert Burns opened UFC Pittsburgh (UFC Fight Night 116)
Gilbert Burns. Credit: Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com

The UFC was back in action on Saturday with UFC Pittsburgh: Rockhold vs. Branch. Numerically UFC Fight Night 116, the event went down live from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. Airing on Fox Sports 1, the six fight main card was preceeded by four preliminary bouts, capped off by a lightweight duel between Tony Martin and Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier.

Earlier in prelim action, heavyweights brought the thunder as Anthony Hamilton met Daniel Spitz, and Ultimate Fighter 17 standout Uriah Hall returned to face off against Krzysztof Jotko.

Check back come fight night for results and a full recap!

Jason Saggo vs. Gilbert Burns

Opening the UFC Pittsburgh card was Canadian lightweight Jason Saggo taking on Brazil’s Gilbert Burns. Burns opened the action with a leg kick; Saggo threw a head kick moments later that was blocked. Burns would land a left hand that slipped through Saggo’s defenses about ninety seconds into the round, marking the most significant strike to that point. Saggo later connected with a right. Low kicks began connecting with low kicks, while Burns looked to shoot around the two and a half minute mark. Saggo displayed solid takedown defense, but Burns threw a knee on the break that almost caught the Canadian. Burns would take the fight to the ground at the end of the round, stacking Saggo against the fence, but Saggo would make it back up and they would end the round swinging.

In the second, Saggo again found success with leg kicks eary in the round. Midway, Burns would try to lure Saggo into his guard, with no success. At the two minute mark, however, Burns would pick Saggo up and slam him to the canvas, a pivotal moment in the round. Burns, however, was unable to do much with the takedown, as Saggo fought his way back up, briefly giving up the back but ultimately breaking free. Back in the middle it was Burns who snapped off some leg kicks while Saggo connected with a body kick. However, moments later, Burns countered Saggo’s jab with a huge right hand that floored the Canadian, and Burns had his first UFC knockout!

Gilbert Burns def. Jason Saggo by knockout, Round 2, 4:55

Krzysztof Jotko vs. Uriah Hall

TUF 17 middleweight standout Uriah Hall faced Poland’s Krzysztof Jotko in the second bout of the UFC Fight Night 116 preliminary card. Hall found himself fighting with his back to the cage early, but stayed on his feet as Jotko pressed him against the fence. However, after regrouping, Jotko again backed Hall up aginst the cage and began unloading on him. Strike after strike landed and Hall was dropped; he made it back to his feet only to eat more shots including some hard uppercuts. The ref was right on top of the action but declined to stop the affair; Jotko then took Hall down, only for Hall to work back up. Jotko next took the back and looked to have a rear naked choke in, but it wasn’t secured, and Hall was able to fight out of it. Back on the feet, Hall was still in danger but managed to clip Jotko near the end of the round.

In the second, Hall was visibly showing both damage and fatigue. The spinning attacks of Hall made an appearance early, but when a pair of spinning back kicks failed early, Jotko again backed Hall up against the cage. Hall wisely escaped, and began head hunting and walking Jotko down. After whiffing on a big uppercut, Hall finally connected clean with a right hand, dropping Jotko instantly. A few follow-up strikes to the downed Jotko, and the ref waved it off. Impressive comeback by Uriah Hall!

Uriah Hall def. Krzysztof Jotko by knockout, Round 2, 2:25

Anthony Hamilton vs. Daniel Spitz

Heavyweight action was up next at UFC Pittsburgh, with Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton taking on Daniel Spitz. Spitz made his UFC debut on short notice back at UFC 209, dropping a decision to Mark Godbeer.

Spitz found himself pushed back early, but in an exchange of rights, Spitz landed right behind the ear and dropped Hamilton. A couple of followup strikes and the ref waved it off, though Hamilton seemed to be pushing himself back to his feet. Hamilton seemed unhappy with the stoppage, but Spitz definitely caught him, and likely would have continued landing blows.

Daniel Spitz def. Anthony Hamilton by TKO, Round 1, 0:24

Tony Martin vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier

In the featured prelim bout, lightweights Tony Martin and Oliver Aubin-Mercier battled it out. Martin opened with a leg kick, while Aubin-Mercier held the center of the cage and both men looked to find their timing and range. The feeling out process continued for a bit, until Martin landed a right hand that was partially blocked, and Aubin-Mercier looked to use a right hook to move Martin into the danger zone. In the final two minutes, Martin used underhooks to control Aubin-Mercier along the fence, but the Canadian was able land a judo throw to secure a takedown. Martin was right back up to his feet, however, and they’d finished the round standing.

In round two, Aubin-Mercier attempted to set up a takedown with a lead right hand, only for Martin to stuff his first attempt. OAM continued to drive, however, pushing Martin up against the cage and finishing the takedown there. He worked from half guard as Martin worked with a butterfly guard. Posturing up, Aubin-Mercier landed a solid punch from the top and continued to pressure Martin. After a failed D’Arce choke attempt, Martin made it back to his feet around the two minute mark. Aubin-Mercier would land another takedown shortly thereafter, leaving Martin right where he started. Martin threatened with an upkick, but it was OAM controlling the fight on the mat.

In the third, Martin opened things with some pep in his step, immediately going on the offensive. When OAM looked for a takedown, Martin attempted a guillotine, which put him on his back. He soon switched to an anaconda choke, which Aubin-Mercier managed to fight off, but Martin wound up on top and was able to control OAM and take the back. A body lock in place, Martin began looking for a rear-naked choke. He controlled the action for the rest of the round, landing plenty of shots from the back, but was not able to finish. It went to the judges, and Olivier Aubin-Mercier wound up taking the split decision.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Tony Martin by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

UFC Fight Night 116 Preliminary Results:

Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Tony Martin by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Daniel Spitz def. Anthony Hamilton by TKO, Round 1, 0:24
Uriah Hall def. Krzysztof Jotko by knockout, Round 2, 2:25
Gilbert Burns def. Jason Saggo by knockout, Round 2, 4:55