Luke Rockhold beats David Branch, wants Georges St-Pierre next

Luke Rockhold beats David Branch, wants Georges St-Pierre next

The American said pre-fight that he was ready and willing to step in for St-Pierre should the Canadian not be ready and able to go at 217 - and if everything goes to plan for Rockhold, he may be the man Whittaker ends up fighting for the title in 2018.

No. 3 middleweight Luke Rockhold beat Bronx native David Branch with a flurry of strikes in the second round of a showdown between ranked fighters Saturday night, re-establishing himself as a top contender in the division.

With that, Luke Rockhold was back in the win column and back in the title hunt. His last UFC fight before that was 2011. Branch, who entered the cage on an 11-fight winning streak, tapped out 4:05 into Round 2. It was Rockhold's first victory since he defeated Chris Weidman at UFC 194 in December 2015 to claim the belt. 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.

Once he got the fight to the canvas, Rockhold immediately moved into the mount as he started raining down a barrage of punches with Branch just trying to survive. He couldn't get much action going and Branch easily took round one.

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Rockhold, speaking with FS1 after the fight, pleaded for Georges St-Pierre to back out of his upcoming middleweight title bout against Michael Bisping on November 4. "He did what he had to do, and I did what I had to do", Rockhold said post-fight.

"I'm ready to go, I have no injuries, I'll be ready for November". "Don't embarrass yourself GSP, back out".

In the co-main event, welterweight Mike Perry improved to 11-1 with a knockout via knee strike over Alex Reyes at 1:19 of the first round. 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.

Perry said the late change from Alves to Reyes did little to affect his focus. "I did enough for Thiago and that was going to be it".

"He ran from me", Perry said.

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