The UFC is coming to the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In one of the promotions’ more stacked fight night cards of 2017, here are three must watch fights.
#3: Kamura Usman vs Sergio Moraes
On July 12, 2015, Kamura Usman would become the Ultimate Fighter welterweight winner, defeating Hayder Hassan in the finals and earning himself the Performance of the Night. Since winning the $100,000 contract to compete for the UFC, Usman has yet to taste defeat, currently riding a five fight winning streak. Though four of his five fights have gone to decision, Usman looks to improve in each of his outings, creating a promising future for himself in the 170lbs division.
Sergio Moraes, on the other hand, lost in the Ultimate Fighter Brazil finals back in June of 2012, but since then has won six of his last seven outings, suffering a draw at UFC 198 against Luan Chagas.
Though most of their recent victories have come by way of decision, you can expect both Usman and Moraes to look for a finish in their up-and-coming bout at UFC Fight Night 116, searching for a top 10 ranked opponent as they continue to climb the rankings.
#2: Mike Perry vs Thiago Alves
Since October 3, 2005, Thiago Alves, a Brazil native, has been competing in the UFC. Once a title challenger, Alves is looking to pull a couple of wins together to prove he’s still as relevant and scary as ever. With five wins in his last 11 outings, ‘The Pitbull’ has not only faced adversity in the cage but many injuries outside of it, losing prime time between 2012 and 2014. Now, coming off of a decision win over the always tough Patrick Cote, Thiago looks to climb the rankings once again, and at age 33, there’s still plenty of time. However, there’s always an obstacle.
Mike Perry (10-1) is a relative newcomer to the UFC, only having totalled four fights in the organization. The three fights he’s won have made noise in the welterweight division, most recently knocking out Jake Ellenberger, long time veteran of the UFC. Having bounced back from a decision loss to a devastating knockout win, Perry is taking the 170lbs division by storm and looks to do the same to Alves as he’s done to the other opponents he’s faced inside the octagon.
With a well-rounded Alves and knockout specialist Perry, it’s safe to say that wherever this fight goes, it’s going to be a war. Set as the co-main event for the September 16 evening, we can expect both fighters will use this positional opportunity as a chance to solidify a spot in the top 15.
#1: Luke Rockhold vs David Branch
David Branch, who is currently on an impressive 11 fight win streak, made his return to the UFC at UFC 211 on May 13 of this year. Branch managed a split decision victory over Krzysztof Jotko after being away from the organization for six years. Following his most recent win, as a surprise to some fans, it was announced that Branch would next fight Luke Rockhold, the number three ranked middleweight, who most recently is coming off of a loss to Michael Bisping, where he lost the 185lbs title. Branch is no slouch and has a long history with top level opponents in multiple organizations. With a win over Rockhold, Branch could be back in the title picture, only this time in the UFC and the possibilities would be endless.
Rockhold has been calling for a rematch with ‘The Count’ Bisping, the current 185lbs champion; however, this, nor a fan-favourite match up against Yoel Romero or Chris Weidman would materialise, as it was announced he would next fight Branch at Fight Night 116.
Also looking to get back into the championship talk, Rockhold (15-3) will look to use this match to bounce back, building a case for a shot at the winner of Bisping vs Georges St-Pierre or interim champion Robert Whittaker.
There is such a delay on the middleweight title picture with the UFC 217’s main-event between Bisping and returning St-Pierre. Because Robert Whittaker suffered injuries following his most recent bout against Romero, it’s hard to predict where Rockhold or Branch will end up with a win at UFC Fight Night 116.
Despite the weight class confusion, expect there to be high level, technical combat between these two middleweight warriors, as they build their resumes for whoever sits in the 185-pound throne.
UFC Fight Night 116 card:
- Luke Rockhold vs. David Branch
- Thiago Alves vs. Mike Perry
- Hector Lombard vs. Anthony Smith
- Gregor Gillespie vs. Jason Gonzalez
- Kamaru Usman vs. Sergio Moraes
- Justin Ledet vs. Dmitriy Sosnovskiy
- Tony Martin vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
- Anthony Hamilton vs. Daniel Spitz
- Krzysztof Jotko vs. Uriah Hall
- Gilbert Burns vs. Jason Saggo
- Justin Ledet vs. Dmitrii Smolyakov
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