The former UFC middleweight champion defeated David Branch by TKO on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night in Pittsburgh. "'GSP', I don't know what I need to do", he said, glaring into the camera.
Rockhold, who dropped the title to Bisping last year, has been very vocal in opposition to this fight in what is an already-stacked middleweight division. "I'll be ready for November", Rockhold said. "This is my fight".
With interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker currently sidelined through injury, Rockhold would stand a good chance of getting the call from the UFC if 'GSP' were to pull out. The time away has helped me align myself with what I really want, and I want a lot more from this game and I know I can give a lot more.
Rockhold also said he's considered a future at light heavyweight, but won't make that move while Daniel Cormier remains champion in that division.
It's been a long time coming, but Luke Rockhold is finally back in the winner's column. Rockhold looked sluggish. All of the things he used to do better than anyone, well, he just didn't do them quite as well.
In his first match since June 2016 Rockhold forced Branch to submit at UFC Fight Night 116
But Rockhold survived, and then came the second round, and then came the old Luke Rockhold. He couldn't get much action going and Branch easily took round one. He scored a takedown, quickly shifted into mount, and before long there he was, on Branch's back, punching the helpless New York native until the referee stepped in. The former Bellator champ cracked Smith with a couple of big rights, and continued to batter his leg with kicks. Since then, it's been a waiting game filled with injuries, rumors, and more waiting.
In the co-main event, welterweight Mike Perry improved to 11-1 with a knockout via knee strike over Alex Reyes at 1:19 of the first round. Branch eventually tapped to the storm of shots. "It was supposed to be Thiago in here, but he ran for me".
"He ran from me", Perry said.
"I'm ready to go". Rockhold recovered and the two broke off. A right hand landed for Branch and he kept the pressure on.
Gregor Gillespie had the lone true submission win of the night, locking in an arm-triangle choke to defeat Jason Gonzalez in the second round. It was Perry's second consecutive victory.
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