Hector Lombard vs. CB Dollaway booked for UFC 222 in March

It’s been a long time since UFC veteran Hector Lombard officially got a win, but he’ll have another chance soon.

Lombard (34-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) is set to face CB Dollaway (16-8 MMA, 9-8 UFC) on March 3 at UFC 222 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, UFC officials announced via reviewjournal.com. The event will air on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

For Lombard, 39, it’s as must-win as it gets. His last official victory came in March 2014. A loss would bring his skid to five straight, certainly putting him at risk of being released by the UFC. Lombard has lost twice this year – dropping a unanimous decision to Johny Hendricks in February and getting knocked out by Anthony Smith in September.

Dollaway, meanwhile, just got back in the win column earlier this year to snap a three-fight losing streak. He defeated Ed Herman by unanimous decision at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale in July.

For more on UFC 222, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/McaaYuhrfic8FD3cSyJvw8/287157”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Dollaway def. Herman”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

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

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_4NrgPS9J_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/4NrgPS9J.xml”}
);

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.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/UcKGwEF3UBxZ6UANwB6hkH/273048”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Rockhold def. Branch”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC
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

Watch Anthony Smith's emotional 3rd-round finish of Hector Lombard

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Anthony Smith entered the cage with Hector Lombard with a chip on his shoulder.

That much was evident in the UFC Fight Night 116 clash, which took place Saturday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on the FS1-televised main card. Despite the apparent emotion, Smith (28-12 MMA, 4-2 UFC) wasn’t exactly quick out of the gate. But in the third round, Smith came alive and scored an impressive stoppage of Lombard (34-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) in what represents the biggest win of his career.

Check out the end of the fight above.

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

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/48UBYSCXXRE9a6XPbXXAve/272858”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Smith def. Lombard”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

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

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_4NrgPS9J_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/4NrgPS9J.xml”}
);

Filed under: News, UFC

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.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/cUMBVvp7krEPYMynsiEwpB/272813”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Hall def. Jotko”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Pittsburgh results: Anthony Smith starts slow but blasts Hector Lombard in 3rd

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/48UBYSCXXRE9a6XPbXXAve/272696”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Smith def. Lombard”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Anthony Smith didn’t exactly inspire for the opening two rounds of his clash with Hector Lombard, but he turned it on in the third.

The middleweight contest took place on the FS1-televised main card of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Smith came out looking to use his range, but Lombard was aggressive in return, moving past his opponent’s long limbs. A Lombard flurry briefly sent his opponent to his knees, but Smith patiently covered and worked his way back to his feet while avoiding any further damage. Smith was patient on the restart, and Lombard took advantage by chopping the legs with a few powerful blows. Huge punches came shortly after, with Lombard showing aggression. Lombard continued to chop at the legs until the bell, setting the tone to the end.

Lombard continued working the legs in the second, and Smith just wasn’t using his massive reach advantage with much success. While Lombard’s cardio has been questioned at times, it was Smith who was visibly slowing and less active than his opponent. Lombard eventually moved into the clinch, slipping around to the back and driving in a few knees while Smith worked to break the grip. Once they separated, Smith finally came alive, and a late right hand did seem to stagger Lombard a bit, but it was too little, too late.

Smith yelled at Lombard between rounds, and it seemed to bring the taller fighter alive to start the third, finally turning up the volume a bit. Smith dropped his hands a bit and started to get loose, and a big right hand sent Lombard to the floor. The flush blow was a game-ender, with referee Dan Miragliotta immediately calling a halt to the action at the 2:33 mark of the final round.

Smith (28-12 MMA, 4-2 UFC) improves to 11-1 in his past 12 outings. Lombard (34-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) has dropped four consecutive contests.

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.

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

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

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_kMRJjb13_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/kMRJjb13.xml”}
);

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/JifTsqKKTdCyMuWcEuXnmg/272232”, customAnalytics: true, title: “UFC Fight Night 116 Official Weigh-ins”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

In-depth main-card breakdown: 'UFC Fight Night 116: Rockhold vs. Branch'

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_hKK8Uebu_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/hKK8Uebu.xml”}
);

Filed under: News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC Fight Night 116’s main-card bouts.

UFC Fight Night 116 takes place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The main card airs on FS1 following an early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Luke Rockhold (15-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC)

Luke Rockhold.

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 32 Weight: 185 lbs. Reach: 77″
  • Last fight: Knockout loss to Michael Bisping (June 4, 2016)
  • Camp: Combat Club (Florida)
  • Stance/striking style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC middleweight champion
+ Strikeforce middleweight title
+ Black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu
+ 5 KO victories
+ 8 submission wins
+ 10 first-round finishes
+ Consistent pace and pressure
+ Good distance management
+ Accurate check hook
+ Solid kicking variety
^ Dangerous liver kicks
+ Strong inside of the clinch
+ Underrated wrestling ability
+ Works well from front-headlock
+ Superb transitional grappler
^ Floats, rides, advances to back
+ Effective ground striker
^ Devestating elbows
+/-1 fight in 15 months

David Branch (21-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC)

David Branch.

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 35 Weight: 185 lbs. Reach: 81″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Krzysztof Jotko (May 13, 2017)
  • Camp: Renzo Gracie Academy (New York)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ WSOF middleweight title
+ Black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu
+ 5 KO victory
+ 7 submission wins
+ 5 first-round finishes
+ Consistent pace and pressure
+ Good footwork
^ Sticks and moves well
+ Solid boxing technique
^ Accurate left hand
+ Excellent kick counters
+ underrated takedown ability
+ Strong inside the clinch
+ Superb transitional grappler
^ Intelligent defense and fundamentals
+ Works well from front-headlock
^ Slick chokes and transitions
+/-2-1 against UFC southpaws

Summary:

The main event for Pittsburgh features a matchup of top middleweight talents when Luke Rockhold and David Branch do battle.

Returning for the first time in 15 months, we have not seen Rockhold since he lost his middleweight title to Michael Bisping last summer. Since then, the former champ has retooled his approach as he looks to make another run toward the top.

Seeking to stomp out that narrative is Branch, a former UFC middleweight contender who has come back with a vengeance since his multi-divisional run with WSOF. Currently No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, Branch could crack more than just the top five should he score the upset.

Starting off standing, we have a matchup between a dynamic southpaw striker and slick, stick-and-move stylist. Whether we are talking about Rockhold’s liver kick, counter cross or check-hook he keeps at the ready, he packs all the weapons that southpaws arguably should have.

Using every inch of his long frame, Rockhold is typically the one dictating the striking range in his fights. Prodding with jabs and moving well behind powerful kicks, Rockhold will chip away at his opposition until creating openings for his opportunism to shine.

However, it is worth noting that Rockhold has moved shop (or at least added to it) since his last time out. Now, spending a majority of his training camp working with Henri Hooft in South Florida, we could very well see considerable changes to his game. And given the Dutch style pressure-fighting that Hooft offers, I suspect those changes will be positive additions to Branch’s game.

Nevertheless, Rockhold still has a deceptively dangerous task ahead that he will need to take seriously.

Branch’s resume says Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but the Brooklyn native has been boxing for some time. Staying light, yet loaded, on the feet, Branch does a good job of sticking and moving in and out of boxing range, particularly as the fight goes on.

When feeling in stride, Branch will begin to pick up his volume and amplify what is already an accurate left hand. In fact, I believe that Branch’s left hook may be the punch worth watching for.

As we saw in Rockhold’s last fight, his propensity to slip heavily to his left gets him out of the way from right hands nicely, but it also creates a hard counter balance that is the resetting of his head position, as this motion feeds directly into oncoming left hooks.

Should Branch create similar angles or reactions, he could also come up big, or at the very least, create doubt in the returning champion’s psyche. Still, this is all easier said than done, as Branch’s boxing stance and style may present targets of their own for Rockhold’s low-to-high kicking attacks.

With each man having paths to victory over the other standing, this matchup could come down to the action generated from the clinch. Both fighters are strong defensively and offensively inside of this space, but given their history, I suspect Branch may be the one looking for takedowns –– especially if the rounds are close.

The problem – in my opinion – with forecasting takedowns in either direction, is that they are both killers from the front-headlock position. Each fighter favors floating to the back, but neither has an issue locking up submissions from here, using their legs or arms just the same.

Traditional takedown entries aside, there are plenty of other ways for this fight to hit the floor. And since it is hard to see one man submitting the other soberly, the obvious answer is that the fighter in top position will have the edge in ground stanzas.

Despite Branch typically being the guy who is bucking for top position in his fights, I am not sure his offensive wrestling will outweigh Rockhold’s counter wrestling in the grand scale of things.

Fully utilizing his long, athletic frame, Rockhold demonstrates a solid sense of hips, levers and how to use them in his favor. Floating smoothly on top while displaying the limb dexterity of a featherweight, Rockhold starts to resemble a giant squid engulfing a ship by the time he hits the mount position.

Though Branch has the defense and overall skills to contend with his fellow black belt, I have a sneaky suspicion things could get ugly for him should he get caught in autopilot.

According to the betting lines, Rockhold is favored at least four-to-one to beat Branch. Regardless of my pick, I am not so sure I sign off on the margin above, as I see Branch having a much better chance to win than the odds indicate.

Even on his worst nights, Branch can turn long stretches of into deceptively competitive affairs. Coupled with Rockhold’s return from a long layoff and inherently opportunistic style –– and we may end up with a much closer fight than many are projecting. Still, the pick is Rockhold to dictate striking range, explore with pressure and possibly spark a finish near the fence off of a corralling head kick.

Official pick: Rockhold inside the distance

Official outcome: To be determined

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Why UFC-Pittsburgh's Anthony Smith views Hector Lombard fight as 'no-win situation'

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_BtPxSuaK_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/BtPxSuaK.xml”}
);

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

PITTSBURGH – If you ask Anthony Smith whether Hector Lombard is his highest-profile opponent to date, he’ll agree.

Lombard (34-5-1 MMA, 3-3 UFC) does, after all, carry a Bellator world title on his resume. He was an Olympic-level judoka who won national titles in Cuba. Not to mention that, as Smith (27-12 MMA, 3-2 UFC) points out, Lombard is probably the one name on his record that the casual fans will be able to recognize.

That, Smith says, is exciting.

But does it mean that Lombard’s undeniable accolades make Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 meeting a bigger one for Smith?

“The right answer would be yes,” Smith told MMAjunkie. “The truthful answer that I would give you is Hector Lombard is not who I wanted to fight. And it’s not for any other reason other than, I don’t look at Hector how everyone else sees Hector.

“His reputation is far greater than he is right now. I don’t see the savage killer that everybody else sees. I see a guy that’s at the tail-end of his career, that’s on a three-fight losing streak, that leads me to a no-win situation. If I beat Hector, I’m supposed to.”

Smith has a point when it comes to Lombard’s recent history. At 39, the middleweight comes into Saturday’s FS1-televised main card bout off consecutive losses to Neil Magny, Dan Henderson and Johny Hendricks. His last win before that, against Josh Burkman at UFC 182, was overturned due to a failed drug test.

Smith, in turn, has kind of been a roll. Since his return to the UFC, after a failed outing in 2013, Smith has won three of his four bouts. His most recent results were back-to-back knockout wins over Elvis Mutapcic and Andrew Sanchez.

With that in mind, Smith has no doubt as to who carries the burden of winning at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

“I’m a young up-and-comer who’s streaking right now and coming into his prime,” Smith said. “Fighting a guy that’s 40 years old, that hasn’t won a fight since he tested positive for PEDs, it’s a no-win situation for me. If I lose, then I lose to a guy that’s coming off three losses.

“Anything less than a dominant performance is a loss for me. So, Hector wasn’t my first choice, but he was the one who wanted to fight. At this point, the way the middleweight division is, you’ve got to fight people who want to fight.”

While his extensive 27-12 record might not necessarily mirror it at first, self-admitted late bloomer Smith believes he’s just now reaching his peak at 29. One of the reasons why it may have taken him longer than some of his peers, he explains, is that he sat outside the “Mecca” of great MMA gyms. The other, though, is just plain maturity. Which is why, while he doesn’t really like looking at the amount of losses on his record, he doesn’t give himself too hard of a time, either.

“I think people look at my record and they see how many fights I have, and they still forget I just turned 29,” Smith said. “I do have a lot of fights, but I think a lot of them were early on. I think it was a lot of fights I wasn’t ready for. I don’t think I grasped the concept of how tough some of these fights were.

“And if you look at my record, there’s a lot of guys that at the time were relative unknowns. And now you look at them, and they’re still kicking ass. I think just as I get older, I think I’m just coming into my prime a little bit later than a lot of people.”

At this point of his career, Smith needs to show what he’s made of if he wants to be taken seriously as a contender. The way he sees it, that rides on putting a decisive end to Saturday’s encounter.

“I want to be a world champion, and that’s what I’ve been pushing for this whole time,” Smith said. “If I go in there, and I struggle with someone like Hector, it’s not enough for me. A win isn’t good enough for me. If I want to be up there with your (ex-champ) Luke Rockholds, who’s on the same card, your (ex-champ) Chris Weidmans, whoever – (interim champ Robert) Whittaker, (current champ Michael) Bisping and (former champ and current title challenger) GSP, whomever the hell is at the top, you’ve got to be able to go in and you’ve got finish people like Hector.

“That doesn’t take anything away from Hector and what he’s capable of, but I’ve got to prove that I’m just on a different level.”

To hear more from Smith, check out the video above.

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

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/DLGzbREP5EA4xFYRyci84A/271883”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Smith def. Sanchez”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 116 pre-event facts: Which headliner is least-hit fighter in UFC history?

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_hKK8Uebu_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/hKK8Uebu.xml”}
);

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

The UFC hosts its fifth event in Pittsburgh with Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 event, which takes place at PPG Paints Arena and airs on FS1 following an early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (15-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) finally returns to the octagon after losing the title more than a year ago when he fights former two-division WSOF champion David Branch (21-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who is unbeaten over the past five years.

The card also features a number of others notables. For more on the numbers behind the third of four UFC events in September, check below for 50 pre-event facts about UFC Fight Night 116.

* * * *

Main event

Luke Rockhold

Rockhold returns to competition for the first time since losing the UFC middleweight title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016.

Rockhold has earned 13 of his 15 career victories by stoppage. That includes all five of his wins under the UFC banner.

Rockhold’s nine first-round stoppage victories in UFC/Strikeforce competition since the inception of the five-minute round are most in the combined history of the two organizations.

Rockhold’s nine knockdowns landed in UFC/Strikeforce middleweight competition are tied for third most in combined divisional history behind Anderson Silva (12) and Cung Le (10).

Rockhold’s seven submission victories in UFC/Strikeforce middleweight competition are tied with Ronaldo Souza for most in combined divisional history.

Rockhold’s 126 significant strikes landed against Chris Weidman at UFC 194 are the second most ever in a UFC middleweight fight behind Rich Franklin’s 127 against David Loiseau at UFC 58.

Branch is 13-1 since he was released from the UFC in March 2011. His only defeat in that stretch came to former UFC title challenger Anthony Johnson at Titan FC 22.

Branch enters the event on an 11-fight winning streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since May 2012.

Branch has earned all three of his UFC victories by decision.

Branch absorbs just 0.87 significant strikes per minute in UFC competition, the lowest rate in UFC history.

Co-main event

Mike Perry

Mike Perry (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has earned all of his career victories by knockout. He’s earned six of those finishes in Round 1.

Perry has landed six knockdowns in four UFC appearances.

Thiago Alves (22-11 MMA, 14-8 UFC) competes in his 22nd UFC welterweight bout, the fourth most appearances in divisional history behind Josh Koscheck (24), Matt Brown (23) and Matt Hughes (23).

Alves’ 14 victories in UFC welterweight competition are tied with Koscheck for third most in divisional history behind Georges St-Pierre (19) and Hughes (16).

Thiago Alves

Alves’ 13 knockdowns landed in UFC welterweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Alves’ 13 knockdowns landed in UFC competition are tied for fifth most in company history behind A. Silva (17), Jeremy Stephens (16), Chuck Liddell (14) and Donald Cerrone (14).

Alves’ eight knockout victories in UFC welterweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Brown (nine).

Alves’ four knockout victories stemming from knee strikes in UFC competition are most in company history.

Alves has landed 280 leg kicks in UFC competition, the second most in company history behind Cerrone (307).

Alves’ 52 leg kicks landed against Seth Baczynski at UFC on FOX 11 are the second most landed in a three-round UFC fight. Former champ Benson Henderson, who landed 53 kicks against Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 59, holds the single-fight record.

Remaining main card

Hector Lombard

Hector Lombard’s (34-7-1 MMA, 3-5 UFC) three-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He’s on a four-fight winless skid overall and hasn’t earned a victory since March 2014.

Lombard is 0-2 since he returned to the UFC middleweight division in June 2016. He hasn’t earned a victory in the weight class since December 2012.

Anthony Smith (27-12 MMA, 3-2 UFC) is 3-1 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in February 2016.

Smith is 10-2 since his initial UFC release in June 2013.

Smith has earned 24 of his 27 career victories by stoppage.

Gregor Gillespie’s (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) 21-second knockout of Andrew Holbrook at UFC 210 marked the sixth fastest knockout in UFC lightweight history.

Jason Gonzalez (11-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) has earned all of his career victories by stoppage.

Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) enters the event on a nine-fight winning streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since May 2013.

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

Usman has completed 20 takedowns in his five UFC appearances.

Usman out-lands his opponents by +2.66 significant strikes per minute in UFC welterweight competition, the best rate in divisional history.

Usman absorbs just 1.34 significant strikes per minute in UFC welterweight competition, the second-best rate in divisional history behind Pete Spratt (1.04).

Sergio Moraes

Sergio Moraes’ (12-2-1 MMA, 6-1-1 UFC) seven-fight UFC unbeaten streak in welterweight competition is the longest active streak in the division. He hasn’t suffered a loss since June 2012.

Moraes is one of six fighters in UFC history to earn a mounted-triangle-choke submission win. He accomplished the feat against Neil Magny at UFC 163.

Justin Ledet (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is 3-0 with one no-contest since he returned to MMA competition after a nearly four-year layoff.

Ledet’s 113 significant strikes landed against Chase Sherman at UFC Fight Night 92 are tied for the second most by any debuting UFC heavyweight behind Tim Sylvia’s 138 at UFC 39.

Preliminary card

Olivier Aubin-Mercier

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (9-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has earned eight of his nine career victories by submission.

Aubin-Mercier has completed at least one takedown against six of his seven UFC opponents.

Aubin-Mercier landed just three significant strikes in his decision victory at UFC Fight Night 74, a record low for a winner of any three-round UFC fight to go the distance.

Anthony Hamilton’s (15-7 MMA, 3-5 UFC) 14-second knockout of Damian Grabowski at UFC 201 marked the second-fastest knockout in UFC heavyweight history behind Todd Duffee’s seven-second win at UFC 102.

Hamilton holds the single-round UFC record for most significant body strikes landed with 49 in the second round against Ruan Potts at UFC 177.

Krzysztof Jotko (19-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) defends 86.8 percent of all opponent takedown attempts in UFC middleweight competition, the highest rate in divisional history.

Uriah Hall

Uriah Hall’s (12-8 MMA, 5-6 UFC) three-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since September 2015.

Hall is 2-4 in his past six UFC appearances.

Hall is one of two fighters in UFC history to earn a knockout stemming from a spinning back kick to the head. Bantamweight Renan Barao also accomplished the feat.

Felipe Arantes (18-8-1 MMA, 5-4-1 UFC) is 2-1 since he dropped to the UFC bantamweight division in August 2015.

Gilbert Burns (11-2 MMA, 4-4 UFC) has earned 10 of his 11 career victories by stoppage.

Burns’ three armbar victories in UFC competition are tied for second most in company history behind Royce Gracie (four).

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

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

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/oHvEzvm9p4qSq3iBHEoPij/271625”, customAnalytics: true, title: “David Branch”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie