Fight Night Picks: UFC Pittsburgh – Rockhold vs Branch

Fight Night Picks: UFC Pittsburgh – Rockhold vs Branch article feature image

The UFC travels to the Steel City with a former UFC world champion headlining the card and looking to prove a point.

A Rock solid main event pick?

Luke Rockhold is, on his day, the best middleweight fighter on the planet. He absolutely demolished Lyoto Machida to earn himself a shot at the UFC middleweight title, then battered Chris Weidman to win the belt. But then he took his eye off the ball and was knocked out by Michael Bisping at UFC 199.

Now he’s back with a point to prove and takes on a seasoned fighter in the form of David Branch, who is back in the UFC for his second stint having become a simultaneous two-weight world champion in the World Series of Fighting (now Professional Fighters League) promotion.

Branch is seasoned and battle tested, but Rockhold is in a completely different class. The only question mark over the former UFC champ is his physical state. He’s been recovering from injuries of late, so it’ll be interesting to see just how sharp he looks on his return.

But Rockhold’s kicking attack and ability to finish the fight on the feet or on the mat – plus the gigantic chip on his shoulder following that loss to Bisping – should be more than enough to get the job done.


Perry’s got the power

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re looking for an exciting, in-your-face fighter to put your money on look, no further than "Platinum" Mike Perry, who takes on short-notice opponent Alex Reyes.

Reyes has a stellar record with a host of finishes, but he’s facing one of the toughest up-and-coming contenders in the UFC’s 170lb division in Perry.

Perry proved he has the heart – and the chin – to go toe-to-toe with a skilled striker and prevail when he defeated Danny Roberts in a thriller at UFC 204 in Manchester.

And he’ll have learned much from his decision defeat to Alan Jouban, where he was outmanoeuvred, but not outstruck, by his opponent.

Reyes is a live underdog in this fight by virtue of his prodigious finishing rate – he’s won all 13 of his fights by stoppage, 11 of them coming inside one round.

It’ll be a wild fight while it lasts, and it’s likely to finish quickly. But Perry should have enough firepower to get the win.


Other selected picks

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Polish middleweight Krzysztof Jotko is as awkward as they come at 185lbs, and his movement and unorthodox approach could be enough to win on the scorecards against Uriah Hall, who tends to either win spectacularly, or not at all.

And priced at a relatively generous 4/5 (BetVictor), Brazilian submission ace Gilbert Burns looks decent value to get the victory against Jason Saggo.

UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs Branch – Fight Card

Predicted winners highlighted in green

Main Card

Luke Rockhold David Branch Middleweight bout
Mike Perry Alex Reyes Welterweight bout
Hector Lombard Anthony Smith Middleweight bout
Gregor Gillespie Jason Gonzalez Lightweight bout
Kamaru Usman Sergio Moraes Welterweight bout
Justin Ledet Zu Anyanwu Heavyweight bout

TV Prelims

Tony Martin Olivier Aubin-Mercier Lightweight bout
Anthony Hamilton Daniel Spitz Heavyweight bout
Krzysztof Jotko Uriah Hall Middleweight bout
Jason Saggo Gilbert Burns Lightweight bout

[Photo Credit: © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports / © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports]

Follow Simon Head on Twitter @simonhead.

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