Category Archives: David Branch

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

Trading Shots: On toughness, tapping to strikes, and the things that only fighters know

Is tapping to strikes a reassuring sign that at least someone knows when to quit, or do non-fighters fail to understand just how much toughness – both mental and physical – matters in MMA? Former UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes joins MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes to discuss in this week’s Trading Shots.

Downes: Ben, I had to get my oil changed this Monday, so that gave me a little time to kill. Instead of taking a walk or trying to engage with a person, I did what any of us would do – stare at my phone.

That was when I came across your column about the difference between toughness and stupidity.

It’s always nice to get a layman’s interpretation of what constitutes toughness in the cage. The overall message of the piece was that referees and cornermen don’t do enough to save fighters from themselves. This was in the immediate aftermath of Gilbert Melendez and Gavin Tucker suffering significant injuries.

After last night’s UFC Fight Night 116 in Pittsburgh, though, I wonder if you’d like to revise this story. Should Uriah Hall’s corner have stopped his fight? David Branch may have done the intelligent thing by tapping to strikes, but are you going to tell me you didn’t hold that against him?

Fowlkes: Yes, I am going to tell you that I did not and do not hold that against Branch. I know there’s that stigma about tapping to strikes, but it’s mostly pretty dumb. We regularly see fighters get hurt and go full fetal as a signal to the referee that they’ve had it, which is basically like tapping to strikes without actually doing it.

Branch was stuck, he was getting pummeled, he was beat and he knew it. Why take a dozen more punches just so people on the internet will be slightly less critical?

You do raise a good point with Hall, though. He had some bleak moments against Krzysztof Jotko in the opening round, only to come back and win with strikes in the second. Comebacks like that keep people hoping. Yes, you’re getting beat down now, but who knows, maybe you land one punch and change everything any minute now.

But you and I both know that’s way more the exception than the rule. I’m not saying we’ve got to pull the plug at the first sign of trouble, but I am saying that sometimes this sport gets hung up on stuff that doesn’t matter. Stuff like going the distance in an obvious losing effort. Stuff like taking a ton of abuse just to prove your own toughness, even when it wasn’t in doubt. Stuff like hanging on until the referee stops it, rather than just admitting what your body position has already told us.

I get that you have to be tough to do this sport, Danny. But are you going to tell me that sometimes it doesn’t cross the line into stupid?

Downes: First off, I’m going to totally disagree with you on the tapping to strikes comment. Does going “full fetal,” as you put it, end up being a type of de facto tapout? Yes it does. Is it the same as tapping to strikes? Absolutely not.

When you just stop answering your girlfriend’s texts, that’s de facto breaking up. When you look her in the eye and tell her it’s over, that’s something different. The result is the same, but one takes more courage.

I’m not going to say that it doesn’t cross the line, but I don’t think you realize the implications of what you’re asking. You’re essentially trying to change the nature of MMA. This might come as a shock to you Ben, but there’s no logical, objective reason to fight someone in a cage for money. I’ll try to put in terms you may understand: There’s also no logical, objective reason to put a helmet on and hit someone carrying an oblong-shaped ball.

American football and MMA are inherently violent sports. Especially in MMA, the violence is the key component. All these attempts to put the onus on referees, cornermen and fighters, themselves to avoid uncomfortably violent or tragic outcomes may seem like a noble pursuit, but I don’t think it is. How much of this is an attempt to make ourselves feel better about watching young men and women concuss themselves? I’m not a brute; I thought Melendez should have quit earlier!

Furthermore, if we were to take your criteria to its logical conclusion, that would make Bob Sapp the smartest fighter in MMA history. Facing any resistance? Quit. Down on the scorecards and going to lose? Don’t even finish the fight. Why test yourself when you can give up!?

You flippantly dismiss the idea of proving your toughness, but it’s something that matters. Being tough on the practice mat doesn’t mean anything. There is nothing at stake. Who cares if you’re supposed to spar five rounds and you stop after three? Your coaches may not be happy and you might even piss off a sparring partner or two, but there’s always the next sparring day.

When you’re standing in the middle of the cage in front of thousands of people as it’s being broadcast on national television, the stakes are much different. Character and strength isn’t what you do when things are going well; it’s what you do when times are tough.

Fowlkes: So, wait, I’m confused about the girlfriend analogy. There, doing something proactive is the brave thing, while passively waiting for her to get the point is cowardly. But what you’re saying is that it’s the same but completely opposite in MMA? Branch isn’t tough because he admitted he was done, rather than waiting for the referee to notice that he’d stopped fighting back?

To quote Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Danny, that don’t make no sense.

I don’t disagree that toughness matters. I’d even argue that this sport requires a different brand of it than most others do, because you can’t limp to the sidelines or call timeout or go get an MRI in the locker room. It’s all about what you do in those few minutes inside the cage, and if it doesn’t go well there is not going to be another chance to redeem yourself next weekend.

Still, you can’t tell me that we don’t fetishize toughness beyond all good sense at times. Other sports sometimes do a better job of realizing that injuring yourself for a lost cause just to make a point is dumb. In MMA, we act like as long as you can stand (and sometimes even when you can’t) you’re obligated to keep going.

And we wonder why fighters have a hard time retiring when we think they should. What’s wrong with these guys, we ask each other. It’s like they don’t know when to quit!

I think you’ll agree that there’s a point where it’s smarter to stop and take your loss than it is to keep fighting just to impress people or prove something to yourself. It’s why tapping out is even an option. We can argue about where the line is, or who gets to decide, but once we admit that it’s there we can longer justify endless abuse in the name of toughness über alles.

What do you think when you see someone hobbling around for weeks, unable to train or fight, all because he refused to tap to a heel hook? Do you think “tough,” or do you think “stupid”? The distinction matters, Danny, and that’s only more true when it’s your brain rather than your ACL.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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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

Luke Rockhold wins, gets mad, turns his focus on … Georges St-Pierre?

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So Luke Rockhold shows up in Pittsburgh for UFC Fight Night 116, wins the fight he’s supposed to win against David Branch, then gets on the mic afterward with fire in his eyes and spits some threatening words at … Georges St-Pierre?

That’s not how it was supposed to go. Granted, it’s been a little more than a year since Rockhold lost his UFC middleweight title in a stunning upset, and memories can get hazy over time, but shouldn’t it be Michael Bisping who Rockhold yells at in post-fight interviews?

And, in a way, maybe he was. As Rockhold explained backstage after the fight, he wasn’t calling St-Pierre out by any means. He was warning him off, urging him out of the way, precisely because the former UFC welterweight champ’s scheduled comeback against Bisping at UFC 217 in November is the thing standing in way of Rockhold’s quest to take the title back from Bisping.

“I’m trying to inspire (St-Pierre) in any way, shape or form,” Rockhold told MMAjunkie. “Get the (expletive) out. This is my fight.”

First of all, yeah, that’s probably not going to work, and one must assume that Rockhold knows it. St-Pierre has had his sights set on this Bisping fight for a solid year now, so he’s not going to get scared and withdraw two months out just because Rockhold tells him he’s probably going to lose.

Second of all, while there are plenty of reasons to hate on the Bisping-GSP matchup as a pure cash grab, Rockhold actually hit on a good argument against it now that it’s far too late to do anything about it.

See, it’s not just that St-Pierre is in over his head, according to Rockhold, though there is that. It’s also that Rockhold isn’t buying the idea that St-Pierre might really want to <i>be</i> the UFC middleweight champ.

“’GSP,’ if he wins somehow, some way, because anything can happen in this sport, maybe, he ain’t going to (expletive) fight any of us,” Rockhold said. “There’s no way he fights any of us. That’s the stupidest thing about this fight.”

Rockhold’s not the first person to offer this hypothesis. You’ve got to admit, there’s some sense to it.

St-Pierre’s been gone from the UFC for nearly four years now, but when he got serious about a comeback it was in a division that he’d never competed in, which right there is a little weird. Then there’s the fact that he seemed to seize on this idea immediately after Bisping became the champ, whereas he’d showed very little interest in fighting as a middleweight at any other time.

Add it all up, and it seems like St-Pierre has pegged Bisping as his best bet for claiming a UFC title in a second weight class while also clocking a monster payday. If he’s successful on both counts, will he really want to hang around and fight the Robert Whitaker or Luke Rockhold-types in a consistent, timely fashion?

It’s possible, sure, but it does seem tough to imagine. And with the UFC’s middleweight class now looking more interesting and competitive than it’s been in years, it’d be a real shame to see contenders collecting dust while the UFC chases quick cash.

Can you blame Rockhold if, after doing that same math in his head, what he came up with in the end was a stammering, indignant rage? Bisping’s defended his title only once, against an aging rival far from the top of the ranks. The last time a true contender had a shot at the UFC middleweight belt was when Rockhold took it from Weidman in 2015.

That must make it hard to keep the faith as a top fighter in the division. Rockhold certainly is that, as he proved when he shook off some early rust to dominate Branch en route to a second-round finish in the main event.

But when you can’t say where any of that will get you, it makes sense to get a little angry. And these days it’s a lot easier to get that than it is to get a middleweight title shot.

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

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David Branch on tapping to strikes at UFC-Pittsburgh: 'I didn't just give up'

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PITTSBURGH – David Branch insists his loss to Luke Rockholdin the UFC Fight Night 116 won’t prevent him from his ultimately goal of becoming middleweight champion.

In the most high-profile fight of his career, Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) suffered a second-round stoppage loss to Rockhold (16-3, 6-2 UFC) in the headlining bout of the FS1-televised card at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. It was his first defeat in more than five years, and one that he admits showed he has more to do before contending with the absolute elite of his weight class.

“I’m right there,” Branch told MMAjunkie after his loss. “I’ve just got more work to do. I’m not going to stop now. It’s taken me too long. I will be back. I will return. I came to the UFC to be the champion and I’m not going to let anything deter me. I’ve had these falls before. I know how to deal with these things. I’ve come back from adversity before and I’m going to do it again.

“I learned a lot. Not losing in almost six years – perhaps victory defeated me. Getting comfortable, winning all the time and losing a little bit of that fear of losing again. Now I have it again, the same way he had it. When I come back out there again I’m going to be real hungry.”

Branch had some success early in the fight, clipping Rockhold with a series of strikes during a combination. The former two-division WSOF champion was the aggressor in the opening round and took it on all three judges’ scorecards, but then the tide turned.

In Round 2, Rockhold took Branch to the mat and put his dangerous ground game to use, eventually climbing on Branch back and pounding him with strikes until he decided to tap out from punishment. Branch received criticism from fellow fighters for tapping out before the referee jumped in, but his explanation for doing so was all about future self-preservation.

“I just got caught in a position that I couldn’t escape,” Branch said. “I tried to take the punishment as much as I could, I got busted up a little bit and I decided to save the fight for another day and just come back stronger. I took as much punishment as I could. I didn’t just give up. Eventually it came, but I took a lot of knocks before that happened.”

Despite a beaming level of pre-fight confidence that he would beat Rockhold at UFC Fight Night 116, Branch ultimately fell short of his goal. He said he has no excuses for the outcome not going his way, and promises to fill out the holes in his game the next time he steps in the octagon.

“He was the better man tonight,” Branch said. “He defeated me fair and square. I did not go out there to try to lose that fight. I worked really, really had for a long time leading up to this. I thought the skills that I had and the effort would be enough to get the victory tonight, but apparently it wasn’t. There’s a lot I’ve got to go back and address.”

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

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Watch Luke Rockhold's ground-and-pound strikes earn David Branch tap

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It had been more than a year since Luke Rockhold had set foot in a UFC cage, but he left with a much-needed win.

Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), the former UFC middleweight champ, was a little slow out of the gate in his UFC Fight Night 116 headliner against David Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. But he turned up the heat in the second round, taking Branch to the floor and pounding away for a submission via strikes in the FS1-broadcast headliner.

Check out the finish above.

Also see:

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of UFC Fight Night 116

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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.

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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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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Luke Rockhold: Michael Bisping will crush Georges St-Pierre, who needs to 'get the f*ck out' of fight

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PITTSBURGH – Luke Rockhold is looking to jump back into the title mix after a successful return from a 15-month layoff in the UFC Fight Night 116 main event.

In his first fight since losing the UFC middleweight title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016, Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) forced David Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) to tap out to strikes in the second round of their bout, which took place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh and aired on FS1.

Rockhold made some strong post-fight statements in the octagon specifically directed at the upcoming 185-pound title fight between Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) and Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) on Nov. 4 at UFC 217. Rockhold believes St-Pierre has no chance of claiming the belt, and for that reason he thinks it’s a pointless matchup.

“I’m not calling ‘GSP’ out wrong. Don’t get it wrong; get it straight,” Rockhold told MMAjunkie. “I’m telling ‘GSP’ to get the (expletive) out of his irrelevant fight. I don’t think he has any chance. I really don’t. I’m just telling you the straight truth. ‘GSP’ is going to get crushed. His game plan will not work against Bisping.

“As much as I don’t like (Bisping), the other guy, he’s going to lose. The takedowns, Bisping is going to scramble. He’s going to get up. The size is going to wear on him. He’s going to outbox him, and he’s probably going to put him away in the later rounds. That’s the fight. It’s going to happen. I’ll bet the house on it. I’ll even (expletive) bet on it.”

Rockhold said part of him believes St-Pierre will withdraw from UFC 217, and if that happens he said he’ll be prepared to step in as a replacement. He’s the last to hold a victory over Bisping, and the pair have a heated rivalry dating back several years.

If the fight does come to fruition, though, Rockhold obviously believes “Rush” poses little threat of winning. If the most unlikely outcome in Rockhold’s mind does happen, however, he doesn’t see any scenario in which St-Pierre agrees to fight him.

“‘GSP,’ if he wins, somehow, some way, because anything can happen in the sport maybe, but he ain’t going to (expletive) fight any of us,” Rockhold said. “There’s no way he fights any of us. That’s the stupidest thing about this fight.”

When looking at options outside of Bisping or St-Pierre, there’s nothing that gets Rockhold’s blood boiling on the same level. He dismissed a rematch with Chris Weidman, and he threw some praise at interim UFC middleweight champ Robbert Whittaker, who is sidelined with injury.

Rockhold is still taking in his first victory since December 2015, and he’s happy he was able to put away Branch with a dominant finish, especially because of the pre-fight trash talk between the two.

“I didn’t say (expletive) (after the finish),” Rockhold said. “I didn’t say a damn thing. But this guy coming at me just trying to belittle me and talk me down like I haven’t done anything, I don’t have a chin, I can’t box. Mother(expletive), shut up.”

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-Pittsburgh results: Luke Rockhold stops David Branch, tells Georges St-Pierre to step aside

Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold appeared a bit hesitant in his first appearance in more than 15 months but shook off the cobwebs to earn a second-round finish of David Branch.

The middleweight matchup served as the FS1-televised headliner of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Branch pushed the pace to start, firing off right hands as he walked forward. Meanwhile, Rockhold tried to retreat to create space and fire in kicks to the body. Branch was relentless in the early going, continually moving forward and not allowing Rockhold space to operate. The two worked from the clinch, battling for position, before Rockhold was able to circle away and move back to the center. Rockhold was effective briefly from range, but Branch was quick to get back into tight range. Rockhold did counter with a late takedown but ran out of time before he could capitalize on the position.

Branch still looked to push forward in the second, though Rockhold was able to keep range in longer spurts and attack with kicks to the leg and body. However, Branch continued to push and did eventually get to the clinch, where he looked to turn the bout into a grinding affair. Rockhold wisely wrapped the body and brought the action to the floor with a slick takedown and a beautifully quick step over into mount. Branch turned to expose his back, and Rockhold staring to tee off. Branch tried to turtle and defend, but Rockhold pummeled away from the back, eventually getting a tap from his opponent with 55 seconds left in the frame.

Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) proved victorious in his first appearance sine ceding the UFC belt to current champ Michael Bisping. Afterward, he had a message for Georges St-Pierre, who faces Bisping at November’s UFC 217, telling the former welterweight champ to step aside for a more deserving contender.

Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) sees an 11-fight winning streak snapped.

UFC Fight Night 116 results include:

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

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