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Top UFC contender manhandles Bronx native David Branch

17 September 2017

Luke Rockhold and David Branch will throw hands in the main event of UFC Fight Night Pittsburgh tonight, and it's a pivotal fight for both middleweights.

Branch, who entered the fight ranked ninth in the division, took his first defeat since May 25, 2012, breaking an 11-bout unbeaten streak.

With that, Luke Rockhold was back in the win column and back in the title hunt. I rushed the fight last time (against Bisping). With Branch essentially defenseless and facing the mat, Rockhold began to wail on his opponent.

Branch (21-4) showed off his boxing prowess early, backing Rockhold up against the cage with an aggressive attack in the first round. I wanted to see that preparation unfold. To be at my best, I'm patient, I'm precise.

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Should GSP not make the walk to fight the champion, Rockhold will undoubtedly be ready to step in as a replacement, especially considering interim champion Robert Whittaker will be out with an injury.

Rockhold, now ranked No. 3 in his weight class behind interim champion Robert Whittaker and No. 2 Yoel Romero, indirectly called out Bisping after his latest win. Rockhold had both hooks in and worked to flatten Branch out while still landing bombs, before long, Branch tapped to the strikes. Rockhold, though, refused to say Bisping's name, instead talking about Georges St-Pierre.

"BSP, want me to beat some sense into you?" You're going to get crushed.

Rockhold normally trains out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, but he opted for a change of scenery leading up to this fight. Rockhold reversed, and looked for a trip while Branch worked a wizard.

Top UFC contender manhandles Bronx native David Branch