Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business today (Sat., Sept. 16, 2017) for UFC Fight Night 116, which is set to go down from inside PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The FOX Sports 1-televised event will feature the return of Luke Rockhold as he faces David Branch in a Middleweight bout. In the co-main event, Mike Perry will face late replacement Alex Reyes in what is sure to be a hard-hitting Welterweight affair.
It’s been more than one year since former UFC 185-pound champion Luke Rockhold stepped into the cage, dropping his strap to Michael Bisping via knockout in his previous appearance. After recovering from injury and a brief verbal spat with company president Dana White, Rockhold is now is ready to get back on the hunt for his world title. His first step won’t be easy, facing a man who hasn’t tasted defeat in five years. Branch has been on a roll, winning the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) Middleweight and Light Heavyweight titles before returning to the Octagon this past summer with a win over Krysztof Jotko at UFC 211. Despite Branch’s 11-fight win streak, Rockhold will be without a doubt his toughest date during that span.
Hector Lombard vs Anthony Smith puzzles me. Sure, Lombard hasn’t had the best of luck lately, dropping three in a row, but he still carries a bit of name value and putting him up against Smith — who most people likely aren’t ware of — on the main card is baffling. Give Lombard an opponent with a bit more name value.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
The card, surprisingly, stayed intact up until three days ago as Thiago Alves was forced out of his co-main event fight against Mike Perry after he was stranded in Florida due to Hurricane Irma.
As a result, UFC managed to snag up Alex Reyes from the regional circuit to take on Perry on short notice.
Felipe Arantas was forced out of his fight against Luke Sanders after he came down with an illness just one day before fight night. As a result, the event will move on with only 10 fights.
Undefeated Heavyweight prospect (10-0) Dmitriy Sosnovskiy will make his UFC debut against Justin Ledet after tearing it up in his home country of Russia for the last few years. Plus, Reyes will look to pull off a stunner when he faces off against Mike Perry on just three days notice.
How The “Prelims” Look:
Not a whole lot of intriguing bouts if you ask me. Though I am interested in seeing how Uriah Hall will bounce back after almost a year-long layoff and three straight defeats. He will be facing the aforementioned Jotko in what is truly a must-win situation for “Prime Time.”
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Aside from Hall, Lombard is in need of a win in the worst way. The former Bellator MMA champion has failed to live up to any expectations people had of him since crossing over to the Octagon. He’s managed to rack up a measly 3-5 mark since his UFC debut in 2012, and has dropped his last three fights, two via knockout. If he can’t defeat Anthony Smith, then I really don’t see him holding on to his spot on the UFC roster for much longer.
Interest Level: 5/10
It’s not a terrible card, but it’s not the most exciting, either. We get to see the return of Rockhold and witness whether or not he’s back to championship form or if the long layoff has affected him. Mike Perry swears he’s the “bigger, stronger” version of Conor McGregor, so he now has the opportunity to somewhat back that up with an impressive outing against a newcomer.
What will really hurt this card — as far as ratings are concerned — is the fact that it is going down the same night as one of the most-highly anticipated boxing matches in recent memory (no not that one), as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will face off against Gennady Golovkin in pay-per-view (PPV) action. So UFC can expect a huge dip in numbers come Monday morning.
Full UFC Fight Night 116 Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 116 Main Event:
185 lbs.: Luke Rockhold vs. David Branch
UFC Fight Night 116 Main Card On FOX Sports 1 (10 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Thiago Alves vs. Mike PerryFIGHT CANCELLED (FULL STORY HERE)
170 lbs.: Mike Perry vs. Alex Reyes
185 lbs.: Hector Lombard vs. Anthony Smith
155 lbs.: Gregor Gillespie vs. Jason Gonzalez
170 lbs.: Sergio Moraes vs. Kamaru Usman
265 lbs.: Justin Ledet vs. Zu Anyanwu
UFC Fight Night 116 Prelims On FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Tony Martin vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
265 lbs.: Anthony Hamilton vs. Daniel Spitz
185 lbs.: Uriah Hall vs. Krzysztof Jotko
Felipe Arantes vs. Luke SandersCANCELED (FULL STORY HERE)
UFC Fight Night 116 Prelims On Fight Pass (7:30 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Gilbert Burns vs. Jason Saggo
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