UFC Fight Night 116 Results: Matches to Make for the Winners and Losers
UFC returned to Pittsburgh for another Fight Night event Saturday.
In the main event, Luke Rockhold defeated David Branch to cement his status as one of the best middleweights in the world. However, what comes next is not clear.
UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping has a date with Georges St-Pierre in November, and interim champion Robert Whittaker waits in the wings following that bout. So what's next for Rockhold?
In the co-main event, Mike Perry iced Alex Reyes to continue showcasing his fight-ending power. It's not the level of opponent he was originally slated to have, which may affect how far up the ranks he moves and, consequently, the level of opponent he gets next.
So what are the fights to book for Rockhold and Perry? What about Branch and Reyes? We're here to answer just that. We'll also take a look at the other eight fights that made up the card in the Steel City. Ready to play matchmaker?
Here are the fights to make for the winners and losers out of UFC Fight Night 116.
Preliminary Fights Quick Hits
Olivier Aubin-Mercier defeats Tony Martin by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Alan Patrick
- Tony Martin vs. Kajan Johnson
Daniel Spitz defeats Anthony Hamilton by TKO at 0:24 of the first round
- Daniel Spitz vs. Justin Ledet
- Anthony Hamilton should be cut from the roster.
Uriah Hall defeats Krzysztof Jotko by TKO at 2:25 of the second round
- Uriah Hall vs. Vitor Belfort
- Krzysztof Jotko vs. loser of Elias Theodorou vs. Dan Kelly (November 19)
Gilbert Burns defeats Jason Saggo by KO at 4:55 of the second round
- Gilbert Burns vs. Alex White
- Jason Saggo vs. loser of Teruto Ishihara vs. Rolando Dy (September 23)
Justin Ledet vs. Azunna Anyanwu
Justin Ledet picked up a victory over UFC newcomer Azunna Anyanwu at UFC Pittsburgh, but he won't suddenly catapult up into the heavyweight upper echelon.
As such, let's not overthink the matchmaking. Daniel Spitz also won in Pittsburgh, and it's a fight that makes sense.
Zu could match up against any other UFC newcomer or 0-1 UFC heavyweight. James Mulheron fits the bill.
These are two easy fights to book, with neither having a major impact on the landscape at heavyweight. The winner of Ledet vs. Spitz could fight a Top 15-level heavyweight in 2018.
Kamaru Usman vs. Sergio Moraes
Kamaru Usman continues to shine as one of the UFC's best prospects regardless of weight class. Sergio Moraes' seven-fight unbeaten streak was snapped in emphatic fashion.
Moraes was never seen as a threat, but all credit goes to him for his winning ways. An early win, against Neil Magny, should help set the stage for his next fight. Magny recently lost to Rafael dos Anjos, putting him in a similar situation to Moraes.
Run that fight back and give Magny a shot at redemption.
As for Usman, it's time for a big fight.
Demian Maia and Colby Covington are scheduled for battle on October 28. Let Usman get the winner.
Gregor Gillespie vs. Jason Gonzalez
Gregor Gillespie is another prospect the UFC has its eyes on, but he's not at the level of Usman. As such, there's no reason to toss him in the deep end of the pool just yet.
Give him Ryan Hall.
Hall is talented enough to challenge him, especially on the floor, but he's also not one of the division's elite. Want to see what Gillespie's upside truly is? Book this fight.
Jason Gonzalez could face any number of lightweights coming off a loss. Lean toward Stevie Ray. The winner regains his position in the division and helps clear the waters a bit in the logjammed division.
Hector Lombard vs. Anthony Smith
Cut Hector Lombard.
He has not gotten an official victory inside the cage since 2014, against Jake Shields, and he has lost four straight fights. Three by knockout. The price to keep Lombard is too steep given recent performances.
As for Anthony Smith, the UFC should keep him moving forward.
Give him David Branch. Let's touch more on this bout once we get to the main event.
Mike Perry vs. Alex Reyes
Mike Perry was supposed to fight Thiago Alves, but Alves pulled out during fight week, which allowed lightweight Alex Reyes to step in on short notice, as reported by MMAjunkie.com's John Morgan. The fight went as expected.
The UFC should give Reyes a true lightweight fight next. But he shouldn't get a can. Erik Koch is the fight to book.
We'll see which lightweight can regain a little momentum at 155.
As for Perry, just rebook the Alves fight. Perry shouldn't fight anyone from the upper echelon just yet, and the Alves fight was pleasing on paper. Don't overthink this matchup.
Luke Rockhold vs. David Branch
Welcome back, Luke Rockhold.
Former WSOF light heavyweight and middleweight champion David Branch took it right to Rockhold. He almost finished the fight in the first round, but Rockhold absorbed the combinations to survive. Once in the second, he got the fight down and mauled Branch.
The 35-year-old proved he is a legit top-tier middleweight. What he did to Rockhold shouldn't go unnoticed. That's why he should fight Anthony Smith next.
Smith put together a big performance against Lombard earlier in the night, and getting Branch would give him a huge opportunity. It's a matchup that favors Branch but isn't a cakewalk, either. It would be a win-win for the UFC.
Rockhold called out Michael Bisping in the post-fight interview. He told GSP to drop out of the fight because it's his to take. That's unlikely to happen. And that puts Rockhold is a terrible spot at 185.
The winner of Bisping-GSP will have to fight interim middleweight champion Whittaker in early 2018. That means Rockhold won't get to fight Bisping until at least the summer or early fall next year. So what needs to happen?
Rockhold needs to stay ready and be the UFC's back-up plan should GSP or Bisping get injured. If both men are able to make the date in November, Rockhold's likely opponent is Yoel Romero in a title eliminator. The state of the middleweight division doesn't give Rockhold much hope of getting his rematch in the next 12 months.