On Saturday night, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold returned to action against David Branch, a former WSOF two-division champion. It was the first trip to the octagon for Rockhold since losing his title since UFC 199 to Michael Bisping. The action went down in the main event of UFC Pittsburgh, otherwise known as UFC Fight Night 116.
Early on in the scheduled five round main event, Rockhold worked the body of David Branch with kicks. Branch pressed him up against the cage in response, slowing the action. After breaking, Branch found some success on the feet, tagging Rockhold with a number of punches as the former champ backpedaled. Branch then unloaded with shots along the fence, though Rockhold would ultimately survive. Reversing, Rockhold used an over-under approach to control Branch. After escaping, Branch charged after Rockhold again, firing off punches and keeping the pressure on. The overhand right was a threat from David Branch as he looked to tag Rockhold. Rockhold, meanwhile, continued to mix up kicks, with leg kicks and a jumping front face kick late in the round. Rockhold added in a late takedown just seconds before the bell sounded.
In the second, Branch kept the pressure up, while Rockhold combated his attack by chopping at his lead leg. Branch then pressed Rockhold back against the cage, tying him up. Rockhold reversed, and looked for a trip while Branch worked a whizzer to defend. They would struggle for a while before Rockhold secured the takedown and moved to mount. He quickly got one hook in, and as Branch gave up his back, he began unloading heavy right hands from the top. Rockhold had both hooks in and worked to flatten Branch out while still landing bombs, before long, Branch tapped to the strikes.
With that, Luke Rockhold was back in the win column and back in the title hunt.
Luke Rockhold def. David Branch by submission (strikes), Round 2, 4:05