Who wins the Luke Rockhold vs. David Branch fight, and why?
JOHN HARRIS, MMATorch Contributor
I’m going with Luke Rockhold by 4th round submission. Rockhold has been out of action for over a year now after his stunning loss to current middlewight champion, Michael Bisping but I do not see that affecting his performance against David Branch. The New York native Branch won his first fight inside a UFC octagon since 2010 with a split decision victory over Krysztof Jotko this past May. Branch is on an eleven fight win streak but has not faced the same high level competition . Branch will look for the take down and try to get top control as he did against Jotko but Rockhold is a whole different type of animal.
Rockhold has an excellent submission game, the two-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion has eight career submission victories. In addition, the only fighter to take Rockhold down inside the UFC octagon has been Chris Weidman, a much better grappler than Branch. Rockhold’s southpaw stance and aggressive mix of straight lefts and head kicks will keep Branch from executing his game plan. This is just a bad matchup for Branch and I don’t see any path to victory for him against Rockhold.
RICK MONSEY, MMATorch Contributor
It’s the main event that nobody was asking for. If you were scratching your head when this bout was announced, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Rockhold was looking like a beast and became the UFC middleweight champion in 2015. It seemed like he was going to be a long-term champion but Michael Bisping shook Rockhold’s jaw and the MMA world. Since losing his title Rockhold hasn’t fought since then. Seemingly waiting for the opponent. Now after David Branch won a split decision in his UFC debut Rockhold is back? I don’t get it. Does the UFC see this bout being in high demand? Does Rockhold see it as an easy win? Because I’m sure he knows that David Branch is no joke with an eleven fight winning streak. That may sound impressive, and it is, but there’s a bunch of other fighters fans would have liked to see Rockhold face in his return bout.
No disrespect intended towards Branch. Let’s just hope it’s a more exciting fight from Branch then his last bout against Krzysztof Jotko at UFC 211. Rockhold is going to use this fight as a way to get back into the title hunt and having a win over the former two time WSOF Champion could be seen as a logical start. Branch needs to take Rockhold down right away and submit him before Rockhold takes control. Rockhold will win by TKO.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATorch Contributor
I’m going with Rockhold in this one. Branch is a dangerous fighter, but I’m going to operate under the assumption that Rockhold is going to come back with a fire. Things haven’t been going his way for a while, and he’s upset about it. I think he’s going to channel that into making a statement in this fight. I think Rockhold wins by TKO late in the third round. Branch is tough enough that it certainly could go to a decision, but I think Rockhold comes out firing and wants to prove he’s the top contender.
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