Top UFC contender manhandles Bronx native David Branch

Luke Rockhold celebrated his return to the Octagon by beating David Branch on Saturday

Luke Rockhold celebrated his return to the Octagon by beating David Branch on Saturday

Early on in the scheduled five round main event, Rockhold worked the body of David Branch with kicks.

Usually, a win brings joy to a fighter, but Luke Rockhold could not wipe the mean off his mug after literally beating David Branch into submission in UFC Pittsburgh's main event.

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In his first match since June 2016 Rockhold forced Branch to submit at UFC Fight Night 116
In his first match since June 2016 Rockhold forced Branch to submit at UFC Fight Night 116

Rockhold (16-3) took Branch, who trains out of Brooklyn, to the ground in the second round and established top control, hammering blows on Branch's head and neck. Branch then unloaded with shots along the fence, though Rockhold would ultimately survive. A right hand landed for Branch and he kept the pressure on. After breaking, Branch found some success on the feet, tagging Rockhold with a number of punches as the former champ backpedaled.

Rockhold threw some kicks in the beginning of the second stanza. A late takedown from Rockhold to close out the round saw the momentum shift, and also gave everyone an indication what was to come next. That led the jiu-jitsu-trained Rockhold to take him to the ground. They would struggle for a while before Rockhold secured the takedown and moved to mount.

"I'm happy to get the win", Rockhold said. He couldn't get much action going and Branch easily took round one.

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