The UFC heads to Pittsburgh this weekend, with two Middleweight contenders hoping to throw their name in title contention. Luke Rockhold will be hoping to revamp his UFC career, while David Branch hopes to prove that he belongs with the best.
We at MMACS are currently 17-5 (77%) on fights that we find ourselves all agreeing on, unanimously. On this card, we could only agree on one matchup. Check out below to see who we believe will get the victory.
Kenneth (72-52): Rockhold, Lombard, Gillespie, Usman, Jotko
Paul (65-54): Rockhold, Smith, Gillespie, Usman, Hall
Jake (67-57): Rockhold, Smith, Gonzalez, Usman, Hall
Kieran (65-59): Rockhold, Smith, Gillespie, Usman, Hall
Jonathan (65-59): Rockhold, Smith, Gillespie, Usman, Hall
Dinesh (58-54): Rockhold, Lombard, Gillespie, Moraes, Hall
Will (61-63): Rockhold, Lombard, Gillespie, Usman, Jotko
Luke Rockhold (7) vs. David Branch (0)
Rochold was once the face of the UFC’s Middleweight division. He defeated Chris Weidman for the title at UFC 194, and was scheduled to defend it against the same man at UFC 199. Weidman was forced to pull out of the rematch due to a neck injury, and Michael Bisping willingly took the fight on short notice. Since Luke already owned a win over the Brit, it caused him to enter the fight over confident. This resulted in Michael Bisping only needing a couple minutes to land that one clean shot that would change everything. Now the Middleweight division is the most confusing division, with there being no clear line for who gets the shot next.
David Branch entered the UFC holding championships in the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight division for World Series of Fighting. Branch returned to the UFC earlier this year, but many fans may have already forgotten his performance. Branch defeated Krzysztof Jotko by Split Decision while taking the safest route to victory. Now he hopes to get past a man who lost it all and is as hungry as ever.
It comes to no surprise to see all the writers leaning towards Rockhold to get the W in this matchup. Rockhold has faced tougher competition throughout his career and should be able to outclass Branch where ever the fight takes place. Both men have great cardio, so don’t be surprised if this fight enters the Championship rounds. Rockhold may have trouble getting the fight to the ground, but as Branch starts to tire from the constant pressure, the takedown should come a lot easier. From there, Rockhold will unleash some devastating ground-and-pound which will open a chance for a submission.
Luke Rockhold via: 4th Round Submmission
Hector Lombard (3) vs. Anthony Smith (4)
A while back, Lombard was feared by most of the division. Lately he just hasn’t looked as scary and dangerous. Lombard enters this fight with his last official win inside the octagon coming against Jake Shields in 2014. Anthony Smith on the other hand enters this fight with vicious back to back knockout victories. Since Smith has such knockout power, Lombard may be forced to fall back on his Judo credentials.
Lombard’s lone chance to get the victory in this fight is to stop Smith in the 1st round. That will not come easy as Smith as proven to be one of the more durable fighters in the division. After a back and forth 1st round, Smith turns up the volume and adds Lombard to his Highlight reel.
Anthony Smith via: 2nd Round TKO
Gregor Gillespie (7) vs. Jason Gonzalez (1)
Gillespie enters this fight with an undefeated record of 9-0 while only going the distance on two occasions. Gonzalez competed on the 22nd season of The Ultimate Fighter, but after not having success, went to RFA to build some confidence. He’s now back in the UFC with a record of 1-1, with his loss coming by 1st round TKO.
I’m surprised to see one of us picking Gonzalez, as he seems quite the risky underdog. Gillespie brings strong wrestling and knockout power to matchup. Gonzalez has six first round finishes to his career, so expect him to set the pace early on. This will likely open chances for Gillespie to land his knockout shot.
Gregor Gillespie via: 1st Round TKO
Kamaru Usman (7) vs. Sergio Moraes (1)
Usman has looked unstoppable throughout his UFC career. Usman is currently 5-0 inside of the UFC with four of those victories coming by Unanimous Decision. He currently has a perfect takedown defense while landing 20 takedowns in those five fights. Moraes is multiple time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt world champion, yet has only landed eight takedowns, throughout his eight fights in the UFC.
Kamaru Usman’s wrestling is on a different level when it comes to his competitors. With the division already stacked with excellent grapplers, I’m interested in seeing who’s in the future for Usman. Throughout this fight, Usman will out-strike and take Moraes down at will. Usman’s cardio will help him keep this game plan up for three rounds on route to a victory.
Kamaru Usman via: Unanimous Decision
Krzysztof Jotko (2) vs. Uriah Hall (5)
Remember when fans were talking about the potential matchup between Uriah Hall and Anderson Silva while Hall was competing on TUF? Now he finds himself entering this fight on a 3-fight losing streak with two back to back 1st round stoppages. Jotko has had much more experience, as he’s had 70 amateur fights and is 6-2 inside the UFC. Uriah Hall is currently 5-6 inside the UFC.
After losing a close decision in his last fight, Jotko will likely not try and leave this in the judges’ hands. Hall has always shown loads of potential, but it seems he can sometimes be his own worst enemy. In a fight where he finds his back against the wall with his job on the line, this might be what Hall needs to shine. Hall will need to stop the takedown and punish Jotko for his attempts if he wants to get his hand raised. After going three rounds in a back and forth fight, some might be unsure who will get the victory, but Hall should do enough to get back on the winning side.
Uriah Hall via: Split Decision
What are your predictions for the fights this weekend? Any thoughts on who will win Fight of the Night? Let us know below in the comments section.
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