UFC Fight Night 116 medical suspensions: Newcomer Zu Anyanwu out indefinitely

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Filed under: News, UFC

One of the 20 fighters on this past Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 event is facing an indefinite suspension following his promotional debut.

Zu Anyanwu

Heavyweight Zu Anyanwu (14-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) needs to be medically cleared for a right eye injury before he’s allowed to return after his split-decision loss to Justin Ledet (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) to open up the main card.

MMAjunkie today requested and received from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission a list of the medical suspensions from the event, which took place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The card aired on FS1.

A total of 11 fighters on the card received suspensions in excess of the automatic seven-day variety. In the main event, former two-division WSOF champion David Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) tapped to strikes against Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in the second round and was given a 45-day medical suspension for facial lacerations.

In the co-feature, Alex Reyes (13-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) stepped in for Thiago Alves on just three days’ notice to fight Mike Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), but was knocked out quickly into the first round. He received a 60-day sit from the commission.

The full list of UFC Fight Night 116 medical suspensions includes:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 116 post-event facts: Mike Perry's power gaining a reputation

The return of Luke Rockhold was a triumphant one on Saturday when the former UFC middleweight champion defeated David Branch in the UFC Fight Night 116 main event.

After a more than 15-month layoff, Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) added another stoppage to his historically illustrious resume in the 185-pound division when he forced Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) to tap out to strikes in the second round on the FS1-televised fight card at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Rockhold’s victory capped off an event which featured eight stoppages out of 10 fights. For more on the numbers behind the card, check below for 40 post-event facts about UFC Fight Night 116.

* * * *

General

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $92,500.

Debuting fighters went 0-2 at the event.

Mike Perry, Uriah Hall, Gregor Gillespie and Jason Gonzalez earned $50,000 UFC Fight Night 116 fight-night bonuses.

UFC Fight Night 116 drew an announced attendance of 7,005 for a live gate of $396,190.75.

Betting favorites went 7-3 on the card.

Total fight time for the 10-bout card was 1:20:40.

Main card

David Branch and Luke Rockhold

Rockhold has earned 14 of his 16 career victories by stoppage. That includes all six of his wins under the UFC banner.

Rockhold’s 13 stoppage victories in UFC/Strikeforce middleweight competition are the most in combined divisional history.

Branch had his 11-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since May 2012.

Branch fell to 1-1 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in March 2017.

Branch fell to 13-2 since his original release from the UFC in March 2011.

Branch absorbed 58 significant strikes in his loss. He had absorbed just 56 significant strikes in his previous five UFC appearances combined.

Branch suffered his first knockout loss since July 3, 2010 – a span of 2,632 days (more than seven years) and 18 fights.

Mike Perry

Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) has earned all of his career victories by knockout. He’s earned seven of those wins in Round 1.

Perry has landed seven knockdowns in five UFC appearances.

Perry averages 2.58 knockdowns per 15 minutes of fighting in UFC competition, the third-highest rate in company history.

Alex Reyes (12-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) had his 10-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since November 2007.

Reyes suffered his first knockout loss since his MMA debut on Sept. 15, 2007 – a span of 3,654 days (10 years) and 14 fights.

Hector Lombard and Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith (27-13 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is 4-1 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in February 2016.

Smith improved to 11-2 since his original release from the UFC in June 2013.

Smith has earned 25 of his 28 career victories by stoppage.

Smith has earned all three of his UFC stoppage victories by knockout.

Hector Lombard’s (34-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) four-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He’s on a five-fight winless skid and hasn’t earned a victory since March 2014.

Lombard fell to 0-3 since he returned to the UFC middleweight division in June 2016. He hasn’t earned his first victory in the weight class since December 2012.

Lombard has suffered all three of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Gillespie (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has earned eight of his 10 career victories by stoppage.

Gonzalez (11-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has suffered all four of his career losses by stoppage.

Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) extended his winning streak to 10 fights. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since May 2013.

Usman’s six-fight UFC winning streak in welterweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

Usman did not attempt a takedown for the first time in his UFC career.

Sergio Moraes (12-3-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) suffered his first knockout loss since Oct. 17, 2009 – a span of 2,891 days (nearly eight year) and 10 fights.

Justin Ledet (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) improved to 4-0 with one no-contest since he returned to MMA competition after a nearly four-year layoff.

Ledet’s three-fight UFC winning streak in heavyweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Stipe Miocic (five) and Francis Ngannou (five).

Preliminary card

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has completed at least one takedown against seven of his eight UFC opponents.

Anthony Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) suffered his third consecutive loss, the longest skid of his career.

Hamilton has suffered five of his six UFC losses by stoppage.

Hall (13-8 MMA, 6-6 UFC) snapped his three-fight losing skid for his first victory since September 2015.

Hall has earned 11 of his 13 career victories by stoppage. That includes five of his six UFC victories.

Krzysztof Jotko (19-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Gilbert Burns (12-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has earned 11 of his 12 career victories by stoppage.

Jason Saggo (12-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of UFC Fight Night 116

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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

While it takes intense training, world-class skills and maybe even a bit of luck to register a UFC win, picking the right song to accompany you to the cage is a key talent, as well.

See what the fighters of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 in Pittsburgh, went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Luke Rockhold def. David Branch via submission (strikes) – Round 2, 4:05

Luke Rockhold: “The Rain” by DMX

David Branch: “The 3 Lyrical Ps” by Sean Price

Mike Perry def. Alex Reyes via knockout (knee) – Round 1, 1:19

Mike Perry: “Welcome Back” by Young Jeezy

Alex Reyes: “Alpha Omega” by Machine Gun Kelly

Anthony Smith def. Hector Lombard via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 2:33

Anthony Smith: “I’m Gonna Make It” by Sanders Bohlke

Hector Lombard: “Victory” by The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Puff Daddy

Gregor Gillespie def. Jason Gonzalez via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 2:11

Gregor Gillespie: “Ain’t No Grave” by Johnny Cash

Jason Gonzalez: “Hail Mary” by Tupac

Kamaru Usman def. Sergio Moraes via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 2:48

Kamaru Usman: “Wo!!” by Olamide

Sergio Moraes: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Justin Ledet def. Zu Anyanwu via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Justin Ledet: “The Moon and The Sky” by Sade

Zu Anyanwu: “Valley of Death” by Rick Ross

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

Olivier Aubin-Mercier: “Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy

Tony Martin: “Last Breath” by Future

Daniel Spitz def. Anthony Hamilton via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:24

Daniel Spitz: “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC

Anthony Hamilton: “Only Fear of Death” by Tupac

Uriah Hall def. Krzysztof Jotko via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 2:25

Uriah Hall: “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J

Krzysztof Jotko: “Streets of Siam” by Stan Bush

Gilbert Burns def. Jason Saggo via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 4:55

Gilbert Burns: “Medley” by Buchecha

Jason Saggo: “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 116 Athlete Outfitting pay: Program payout total nears $14.5 million

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PITTSBURGH – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $95,000.

UFC Fight Night 116 took place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The card aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way were middleweights Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Uriah Hall (13-8 MMA, 6-6 UFC), who each received a third-tier payout total of $10,000. Rockhold defeated David Branch in the main event, while Hall beat Krzysztof Jotko on the prelims.

The full UFC Fight Night 116 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Luke Rockhold: $10,000
def. David Branch: $5,000

Mike Perry: $5,000
def. Alex Reyes: $2,500

Anthony Smith: $5,000
def. Hector Lombard: $5,000

Gregor Gillespie: $2,500
def. Jason Gonzalez: $2,500

Kamaru Usman: $5,000
def. Sergio Moraes: $5,000

Justin Ledet: $2,500
def. Zu Anyanwu: $2,500

Olivier Aubin-Mercier: $5,000
def. Tony Martin: $5,000

Daniel Spitz: $2,500
def. Anthony Hamilton: $5,000

Uriah Hall: $10,000
def. Krzysztof Jotko: $5,000

Gilbert Burns: $5,000
def. Jason Saggo: $5,000

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $4,145,000
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $14,468,000

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter reacts to Mike Perry's brutal knockout of Alex Reyes at UFC Fight Night 116

Mike Perry’s rise up the UFC welterweight contender ladder took another step forward on Saturday when he defeated Alex Reyes in the UFC Fight Night 116 co-main event.

Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) earned his fourth win in five UFC appearances when he beat promotional newcomer Reyes (12-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) by first-round knockout in the FS1-televised co-headliner at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Perry’s victory over Reyes at UFC Fight Night 116.

* * * *

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Pittsburgh results: Mike Perry quickly KOs Alex Reyes, calls out Robbie Lawler

Mike Perry scored his second consecutive knockout win, using a devastating knee to finish late replacement Alex Reyes.

The welterweight contest was featured in the FS1-televised co-main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Perry worked quickly to the center of the cage and looked to fire massive power shots. Reyes moved well to open but was clipped by a knee that seemed to bother him. Perry sensed the opportunity and moved forward, looking to work from the clinch. It proved a wise decision, as he pulled Reyes’ head down and blasted him with a knee, sending him toppling to the canvas. A hammerfist followed, and the bout was brought to an end 79 seconds after it began.

Perry was originally expected to face UFC veteran Thiago Alves, who was forced to withdraw from the card to take care of family following Hurricane Irma. After the win, Perry called for a future booking with former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.

Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) has earned all 11 of his career wins by knockout. Reyes (13-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) drops his UFC debut but will likely earn another look, this time at lightweight.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 116 results include:

For more on UFC Fight Fight 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Alex Reyes has upset of Mike Perry on his mind on super short notice at UFC Fight Night 116

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PITTSBURGH – Despite a pretty decent little list of things not in his favor, Alex Reyes is plenty confident heading into his UFC debut.

Took the fight on three days’ notice? No big deal. Had to travel from California to Pittsburgh, arriving only a dozen hours before he had to get on the scale? Whatever. Going up a weight class? So what? Only one fight in the past two or so years? Meh …

Reyes (13-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on Saturday fights welterweight Mike Perry (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 116, which takes place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh and airs on FS1. And his opponent is another thing on that list that on paper seems to be working against Reyes.

Mike Perry and Alex Reyes

Perry is a 5-1 favorite against Reyes and is coming off the most devastating win of his career. Perry’s massive elbow knockout of Jake Ellenberger in April got him back in the win column after the first loss of his pro career, a decision setback this past December to Alan Jouban that snapped a 10-fight streak of 10 knockouts.

Reyes today told MMAjunkie none of the drawbacks of such a short-notice fight were enough to keep him from making the trip. Not even close.

“I’ve been working very, very hard and talking with my managers and coaches – and they believe, and I believe and I know that I belong here,” Reyes said. “I was hoping something like this would happen. God willing, it did, and I jumped on the opportunity as soon as it presented itself.

“I’m ready, and I was ready for the call. Stepping up a weight class is not a big deal to me. I’m a bigger ’55er. I’m comfortable, and I’m excited to get in there and throw down with this guy.”

Throw down is something that doesn’t usually come as a problem for Perry thanks to that 100 percent knockout rate in his wins. But even though casual fans may not have eyes on Reyes before Saturday, they should know he’s got a 100 percent finish rate of his own with nine knockouts and four submissions.

Alex Reyes

He comes into the UFC as a former King of the Cage lightweight champ. Even Perry acknowledges he hopes to get more of a fight than the oddsmakers are expecting with their 5-1 odds in his favor.

Those odds don’t bother Reyes much. If anything, he’s using them as motivation.

“I like the element of surprise – I like all the odds against me,” Reyes said. “It pushes me more. It drives me to go out there and show the world who I am and what I can do, and I’m excited for that.”

Reyes obviously was quick to answer the UFC’s call when Thiago Alves dropped out just this week. He knows what kind of knockout power Perry brings to the table, but that didn’t stop him.

He also said he’s not using the fight as merely a means to get into the UFC with a likely free pass to a second fight, regardless of what happens on Saturday night. Some in his shoes might accept a loss knowing that’s what was expected, and that they’d be back for a second one with the benefit of a full camp, given they’re doing the promotion a solid by stepping up under far less-than-ideal circumstances.

But the way Reyes is seeing it, he might as well go out there and win the damned thing.

“He’s explosive – he’s tough. He’s a contender in the 170-pound division – he’s a tough fighter, and I’m excited to challenge myself against that. I love the challenge and I love getting pushed. He’s tough, but I believe I’m better than him and I’m more technical than he is.

“I wouldn’t have taken the fight if I didn’t think I can beat the guy. Just because it’s the UFC, I’m not gonna, ‘Oh, I’m going to take this fight’ and go in there to lose. I can beat this guy, and I’m gonna beat this guy.”

For more from Reyes, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch UFC-Pittsburgh, including a clear gameplan, and a clear moment to shine

Two former champions with something to prove face off in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116.

In one corner, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold returns to action for the first time since losing his title to Michael Bisping in June 2016. Opposite Rockhold, former two-division WSOF champ David Branch looks to rebound from a lackluster split-decision win over Krzysztof Jotko in May.

Rockhold is anxious to get back to action and put the Bisping loss behind him.

“I’m (expletive) tired of waiting,” Rockhold told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’m not (expletive) around. I’m tired of this (expletive). I’m tired of talking about it. I’m coming with a vengeance.”

Branch is also motivated to return to the octagon.

“Yo, Lucas, man – the (expletive) is you talking, man? Huh? I heard your little punk-ass (expletive) interview on Ariel Helwani,” Branch said in a Twitter video. “Hmm? Mother(expletive), what the (expletive) is you talking about, man? I ain’t lost a fight in five mother(expletive) years. You can’t box, and you ain’t got no (expletive) chin. You getting in a mother(expletive) cage with me? You stupid? Man, you cold fronting man. I’m going to beat you like you stole something. Watch what I do to this mother(expletive).”

In the co-main event, rising welterweight powerhouse Mike Perry looks to add a fourth knockout win to his UFC record against late replacement Alex Reyes.

UFC Fight Night 116 takes place Saturday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, and it airs on FS1.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. Don’t look back

After losing to Bisping, Rockhold fell to No. 2 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings. In those same rankings, Branch was at No. 11, while then up-and-coming Robert Whittaker held the No. 12 spot.

Today, Whittaker is the interim champion and ranked No. 2, Rockhold (15-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is No. 4, and Branch (21-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) comes in at No. 7.

Neither Rockhold nor Branch were happy with their most recent performances. After his loss, Rockhold said he took Bisping “for granted.” Branch, who returned to the UFC after six years outside the organization, said he felt he performed at “about 20 percent” of his capabilities in the Jotko fight.

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Expect Rockhold and Branch to be very motivated to put their recent disappointments behind them.

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2. You know the gameplan

Three days before UFC Fight Night 116, Thiago Alves withdrew from his fight against Perry. A few hours after news broke that Alves (22-11 MMA, 14-8 UFC) was out, Reyes (12-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) agreed to face Perry (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC).

The good thing for Reyes, who usually fights at lightweight, is he knows precisely what Perry brings to this contest. Perry’s gameplan is to walk forward, take whatever his opponent has to offer and come back with strikes of his own. Defense is an afterthought when it comes to Perry, whose throwback style has made him a fun fighter to watch, despite some questionable behavior outside the cage.

Between them, these two have only heard the final bell twice. All of Perry’s wins have come by knockout, while Reyes has 12 consecutive stoppage victories.

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3. Big name hunting

Anthony Smith had a one-fight stint in the UFC in 2013. He lost that bout by submission. After his release, Smith ran up a 7-1 record and claimed the Victory FC middleweight title with a TKO win over former UFC fighter Josh Neer.

Now back in the UFC, Smith is 3-1 with knockout victories in his two most recent fights.

Smith (27-12 MMA, 3-2 UFC) gets the biggest opportunity of his career in Pittsburgh, where he faces former Bellator middleweight champion, Hector Lombard (34-5-1 MMA, 3-3 UFC), who is currently on the worst run of his career. He’s lost three straight since he served a one-year suspension after he tested positive for desoxymethyltestosterone, a designer steroid.

Smith and Lombard are both powerful punchers, combining for 32 knockout victories. The key to this fight may be Smith’s seven-inch height and five-inch reach advantages. If Smith uses those physical assets effectively, he has a chance to extend Lombard’s losing skid.

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4. More than a wrestler

Gregor Gillespie is a former four-time All-American wrestler. That background showed in his UFC debut. In that bout, Gillespie attempted 19 takedowns on his way to a decision win over Glaico Franca. In his second UFC contest, Gillespie didn’t need to attempt any takedowns: He knocked out Andrew Holbrook in 21 seconds.

The unbeaten Gillespie (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) faces Jason Gonzalez in Pittsburgh. Gonzalez (11-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) earned a submission victory over J.C. Cottrell in his most recent outing.

The odds indicate this lightweight matchup should be a showcase fight for Gillespie. Gillespie, the self-proclaimed, “best fisherman in MMA,” has been working a lot on his striking. Expect Gillespie to showcase his development in that department. If his striking fails, Gillespie can always rely on his high-level wrestling.

5. Overflowing with confidence

Five fights into his UFC career, Kamaru Usman thinks he is “one of the top two, top three best in the world right now.” Before he gets the opportunity to prove that, Usman (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) must get past Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Sergio Moraes (12-2-1 MMA, 6-1-1 UFC).

The ultra-confident Usman is a well-rounded fighter despite his limited experience. Usman has excellent takedowns, and his strength allows him to control opponents both against the cage and on the mat with relative ease. The one knock against Usman is his four straight decision victories. However, Usman has shown significant progress in his striking, so finishes might be on the way for the rankings honorable mention.

If Moraes, unbeaten in seven fights as a UFC welterweight, does manage to defeat Usman, it will be the biggest upset of the night.

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6. From snubbed to signee

UFC president Dana White passed on signing heavyweight Zu Anyanwu after he saw Anyanwu earn a TKO win during the filming of an episode of “Lookin’ for a Fight.” White also passed on Anyanwu after he stopped Greg Rebello on a “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series” card. Despite those snubs, the UFC signed Anyanwu this week to step in to face Justin Ledet as a late replacement.

Anyanwu (14-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), the winner of seven of his last eight fights, has his work cut out for him against the unbeaten Ledet (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who has gone the distance once in his career.

Ledet, a promising young heavyweight, submitted Mark Godbeer in November. Ledet’s long break between fights was due to an injury and a four-month USADA suspension.

7. Looking for a breakthrough

The bout between Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Tony Martin is an excellent matchup between two unranked lightweights. Aubin-Mercier has a strong ground game. He has eight submission wins, seven via rear-naked choke. However, Martin’s (12-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) reach advantage and striking may present a problem for Aubin-Mercier (9-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC).

Aubin-Mercier and Martin have both shown progress in their recent fights. Martin might have a slight edge in his overall MMA game thanks to his recent strides in the striking department. Aubin-Mercier has the advantage on the ground, but he may find it difficult to get Martin to the mat.

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8. Let’s try it with a full camp

Daniel Spitz took a short notice fight against Mark Godbeer at UFC 209. The lanky Spitz looked good early, but as the fight progressed, he ran out of gas and ended up on the wrong side of a decision.

At UFC Fight Night 116, the largely unproven Spitz gets a chance to show what he can accomplish with a full camp behind him.

Spitz (5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) faces Anthony Hamilton in this heavyweight bout. Hamilton (15-7 MMA, 3-5 UFC) has been on the losing end of two consecutive “Performance of the Night” fights. Hamilton has solid wrestling, but his striking can be over-aggressive and sloppy at times. With a UFC record of 3-5, it’s going to be interesting to see how Hamilton approaches a fight against an opponent who has a massive experience disadvantage.

9. Time to get it right

Uriah Hall has been one of the more enigmatic UFC fighters. At times Hall has looked like a world-beater; on other occasions he’s been average, at best. Currently mired in a three-fight losing streak, and with a 2-4 record dating back to mid-2015, Hall has never been in a worse position.

That said, Hall has handled his losing skid with aplomb.

“I have a lot of kids that are looking up to me, so what kind of example would I set by just quitting? I’m going to keep doing it until I get it,” Hall told MMAjunkie after his most recent loss. “I’m going to fail sometimes, but I’m going to keep doing it until I get it.”

Hall (12-8 MMA, 5-6 UFC) faces No. 9-ranked Krzysztof Jotko in this middleweight bout. Jotko (19-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) lost a split decision to David Branch in his most recent fight.

10. Hard times

Gilbert Burns began his UFC career with three victories. Burns, a world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, earned “Performance of the Night” bonuses in two of those bouts. Those wins gave Burns a record of 11-0 and earned him some buzz in the lightweight division, but things have not gone well for Burns recently. He’s dropped two of his past three fights. Both of those losses came at the hands of strikers.

The good thing for Burns is that he faces fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Jason Saggo in Pittsburgh. Like Burns (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC), Saggo (12-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) lost his last fight.

This is Burns’ first bout in a year. It would not be a surprise if Burns used that time to shore up his striking game and his takedown skills. A win over Saggo won’t reestablish Burns as a fighter to watch, but it will be a step in the right direction.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 116 staff picks: The most lopsided event in our history with 5 unanimous nods

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Rockhold
vs.
Branch
Perry
vs.
Reyes
Lombard
vs.
Smith
Gillespie
vs.
Gonzalez
Moraes
vs.
Usman
Anyanwu
vs.
Ledet
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 82-64
rockhold2017
Rockhold
(76%)
perry2017
Perry
(87%)
lombard2017
Lombard
(62%)
gillespie2017
Gillespie
(75%)
usman2017
Usman
(80%)
ledet2017
Ledet
(76%)
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 91-55
trophy copy 2015 Champion
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
asmith2017
Smith
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 89-57
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
asmith2017
Smith
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 88-58
trophy copy 2016 Champion
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
asmith2017
Smith
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 87-59
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
asmith2017
Smith
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 87-59
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
lombard2017
Lombard
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 83-63
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
asmith2017
Smith
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 83-63
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
asmith2017
Smith
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 81-65
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
asmith2017
Smith
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 81-65
trophy copy 2014 Champion
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
asmith2017
Smith
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 81-65
rockhold2017
Rockhold
perry2017
Perry
lombard2017
Lombard
gillespie2017
Gillespie
usman2017
Usman
ledet2017
Ledet

The UFC returns to Pittsburgh this week, and the main card features the most lopsided staff picks in our history.

UFC Fight Night 116 takes place Saturday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, and it airs on FS1.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (15-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) returns for the first time since losing his belt to take on former two-division WSOF champ David Branch (21-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC). Rockhold is more than a 5-1 favorite, and he’s one of five unanimous picks this week from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

In the co-feature, Mike Perry (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) takes on Alex Reyes (12-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in a welterweight fight. Reyes stepped up on three days’ notice when Thiago Alves pulled out earlier this week. Not surprisingly, Perry is getting a 10-0 nod against Reyes, who will be making his UFC debut.

The other unanimous picks on the main card are 5-1 favorite Gregor Gillespie (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) over Jason Gonzalez (11-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) in their lightweight fight, 7-1 favorite Kamaru Usman (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) over Sergio Moraes (12-2-1 MMA, 6-1-1 UFC) in their welterweight bout, and 4-1 favorite Justin Ledet (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) over short-notice fill-in Zu Anyanwu (14-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at heavyweight.

The only fight that isn’t unanimous from our pickers is the middleweight bout between former Bellator champion Hector Lombard (34-7-1 MMA, 3-5 UFC) and Anthony Smith (27-12 MMA, 3-2 UFC). The fight is a virtual pick’em at the online sports books, but it still is a blowout from our staff members, who are taking Smith at an 8-2 clip over Lombard, who doesn’t have an official win since 2014.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Rockhold, Perry, Lombard, Gillespie, Usman and Ledet are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 116's Mike Perry not so subtly accuses Thiago Alves of ducking

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PITTSBURGH – UFC welterweight Mike Perry is no stranger to last-minute fight withdrawals, though he can’t remember the last guy to do it before onetime title challenger Thiago Alves.

“Sometimes, I’ve got to watch what I say, because I scare these guys away,” Perry on Thursday told MMAjunkie after a workout. “I don’t know if I scared Thiago. I might have.

“They posted (my knockout of Jake Ellenberger) this week and said it was the ‘Knockout of the Week.’ He might have seen that and replayed it in his head.”

Perry is irritated at the opportunity lost by not getting to fight Alves, who challenged for the UFC’s welterweight title in 2009 and who withdrew from the FS1-televised co-headliner at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 for undisclosed reasons.

Perry (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) claims the matchup has been in the works on three separate occasions since Alves (22-11 MMA, 14-8 UFC) called him out, only to see the fight evaporate.

With the latest scratch on short notice, Perry is “pissed.”

“(Alves) took away the recognition I was going to get for fighting him,” he said.

In Alves’ place goes first-time octagon combatant Alex Reyes (13-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who will step in on three days’ notice to face the fearsome Perry at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

“It’s a lose-lose for me,” Perry said. “I’m giving this guy every chance, and I’m getting almost nothing from it. But I’m here to fight, so I’m happy to have a fight.”

Granted, there are two silver linings he sees to the matchup. First, he gets paid. And second, he gets to halt a 13-fight streak built by Reyes on the regional circuit.

“He’s a black belt, and he must think that that’s good enough for him to come in here and exit this fight safely and out of harm’s way,” Perry said. “But you lock that door with me, man, you all know what to expect.”

Perry, of course, expects to come out with another highlight-reel knockout. But he hasn’t forgotten about Alves.

“If they called me and say, hey, we got this fight scheduled, call me short notice,” he said. “Call me short notice. I’ll just cut the weight and get in shape.

“The long time is what’s making me upset. The long time that I took to prepare for this. I wanted to see that preparation unfold. I’ll still see it unfold, but it won’t be the same.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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