UFC FIGHT NIGHT 116 LIVE REPORT
SEPTEMBER 16, 2017
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA AT PPG PAINTS ARENA
ON FOX SPORTS 1
Keep it locked here all evening for live updates of UFC: Pittsburgh. My name is Michael Grocke and I’ll have quick results and analysis of the preliminary card followed by live round by round coverage of the main card.
Be sure to check out the MMA Talk for Pro Wrestling Fans podcast where I host every Monday at 6PM CT at pwtorchlivecast.com. You can also read my columns right here at MMATorch and for you sports bettors check out my website thefightingchampion.com. Follow me on Twitter @FightChampBlog.
The main event features a middleweight bout between the returning Luke Rockhold and David Branch. Rockhold makes his first return to the cage since losing the middleweight title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June of 2016. He’ll take on David Branch who will be making his second appearance under the UFC banner.
The co-main event pits the heavy handed Mike Perry against late replacement Alex Reyes in a battle of welterweights. Rounding out the card is Hector Lombard going up against Anthony Smith in the middleweight division, Gregor Gillespie vs. Jason Gonzalez in a battle of lightweights, the “Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman takes on Sergio Moraes and finally in the heavyweight division Justin Ledet takes on Zu Anyanwu.
(1) Jason Saggo (12-3) vs. Gilbert Burns (11-2) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Result: Gilbert Burns over Jason Saggo by Knockout (4:55 of Round 2)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: That was an interesting fight to watch play out. Both Burns and Saggo are high level grapplers yet both guys were content to keep the fight standing. Burns was looking for the overhand right the entire fight and finally landed it flush on Saggo’s jaw and it was lights out. This was Burns first knockout victory in the UFC.
(2) Krzysztof Jotko (19-2) vs. Uriah Hall (13-8) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Result: Uriah Hall over Krzysztof by Knockout (2:25 of Round 2)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: Unbelievable heart shown there from Uriah Hall. I was shocked he even made it oout of the first round. Jotko came out applied pressure and smothered Hall which was an excellent game plan. He took Hall’s ability to create space which is what he needs to get his kicks and punches off. Jotko got away from what worked so well for him in the first round and allowed Hall to dictate range which ultimately was his undoing. A big right hand dropped Jotko and Hall finished the fight, unlike Jotko was able to do in the first round. Hopefully this win gets Hall going again.
(3) Anthony Hamilton (15-7) vs. Daniel Spitz (5-1) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Result: Daniel Spitz over Anthony Hamilton by TKO (0:24 of Round 1)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: A big right to the temple of Hamilton as the fight started dropped him. Spitz took his back and landed two to three more punches to the side of Hamilton’s head and the fight was stopped. If you blinked, you missed the finish. That said, I thought it was a premature stoppage. Hamilton was hurt but he wasn’t given any time to recover. After looking at the replay a few times, the stoppage looks to be warranted.
(4) Tony Martin (12-3) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Result: Olivier Aubin-Mercier over Tony Martin by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28,29-28)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: This was a good competitive fight. It started slowly as neither fighter wanted to make a mistake. Martin had success when the fight was on the feet. But in my opinion Martin dropped the first two rounds because he allowed OAM to take him to the mat. Martin was able to get to control OAM on the ground for most of the third round, but OAM defended well from underneath and held on for the Split Decision. I scored the fight 29-28 for OAM.
(5) Justin Ledet (8-0, 1 NC) vs. Zu Anyanwu (14-4) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Anyanwu takes center cage. Ledet circles right to avoid Anyanwu’s right hand. Anyanwu goes to the body early. Ledet making reads for the first 1:30 of the fight. Ledet trying to soften Anyanwu up with heavy jabs. With two minutes to go both guys stand stationary at center cage looking to unload their right hands. The crowd is getting restless with the lack of action. Anyanwu lands a nice right hand that Ledet takes. Anyanwu goes to the body with a punch and two circle each other as the round ends.
10-9 Anyanwu but I can see the round going either way. There wasn’t much action and neither fighter inflicted any damage on the other.
ROUND TWO: Anyanwu comes out and lands a nice right hand and tries to follow with an uppercut that’s blocked. Ledet comes out working the jab just like he did inn the first round. Anyanwu lands another right with Ledet’s back to the fence. Ledet circles out and works the jab back at center cage. Ledet is having success when he controls range. When Anyanwu gets inside he is able to land his right hand. Ledet keeps backing to the fence and allowing Anyanwu to close distance and land right hands. Ledet comes back and peppers Anyanwu with more heavy jabs. Anyanwu looks to be slowing down with under a minute to go in the round. Anyanwu’s mouth is wide open and both eyes are showing the affects of Ledet’s jab.
ROUND THREE: They stand and trade as the last round starts. Anyanwwu comes out with urgency and lands some big shots that got Ledet’s attention. Ledet takes the punches and returns to peppering Anyanwu with jabs. With three minutes to go Anyanwu lands a nice uppercut. Ledet comes back with jabs. Neither fighter has attempted a take down yet. Ledet snaps another jab that lands flussh to Anyanwu’s right eye. With a minute to go Ledet is still moving well side to side with Anyanwu following him around the cage. Anyanwu looks to be getting frustrated as he looks to land the big right hand. Ledet is on his horse not wantinng to get caught as the fight comes to a close.
Result: Justin Ledet over Zu Anyanwu by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: This fight belonged on the prelims. Kudos to Zu Anyanwu for taking the fight on short notice. He didn’t embarrass himself and even won the fight on one of the judge’s scorecards. I don’t agree with the judge as this was a pretty clear 29-28 win for Ledet.
(6) Kamaru Usman (10-1) vs. Sergio Moraes (12-3-1) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Both guys come out swinging. Usman lands a heavy leg kick that hurts Moraes and follows up with a big body shot. Moraes goes down but Usman can’t do more damage and Moraes is back up. Moraes is looking to stand and trade with Usman. Both guys landing punches. Usman is doing some serious damage to Moraes’s legs with heavy kicks. Usman lands a huge right hand that puts Moraes on the canvas with just over two minutes to go. Usman pounces and before he can land another punch the ref jumps in and covers Moraes before he can take any more damage.
Result: Kamaru Usman over Sergio Moraes by Knockout (2:48 of Round 1)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: That went the way I expected it to go. Usman was the biggest favorite tonight and he didn’t disappoint. Usman calls out Rafael Dos Anjos. This man deserves a top 10 fighter, he’s going to be a tough challenge for anyone in the welterweight division. Usman vs. RDA? Yes, please.
(7) Gregor Gillespie (9-0) vs. Jason Gonzalez (11-3) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Gonzalez comes out and lands to left hands and a head kick as the fight opens. Gillespie clinches and runs Gonzalez to the fence. Gonzalez lands a knee in the clinch. A short right hand from Gillespie drops Gonzalez thirty seconds into the fight. Gillespie pounces looking for the finish. Gonzalez is defending and seems to have his senses. Gonzalez scrambles from bottom and gets back to his feet with 3:30 to go. Gillespie lands big punches back on the feet and Gonzalez is hurt badly again. Gonzalez returns fire and they trade big shots at center cage. Gillespie shoots and lands a take down with three minutes left in the round. Gillespie has full mount. Gonzalez scrambles and is out. Back to center with just over two minutes to go. Gillespie with another take down. With 1:26 Gonzalez works back to his feet and eats a big right hand for his efforts. Gonzalez returns fire once again landing punches and a head kick. Gonzalez lands a short left uppercut with 1:20 to go that drops Gillespie. He goes for a choke but Gillespie slips out and is able to get back to his feet. Gillespie runs Gonzalez to the fence. Another take down for Gillespie with under a minute left in the round.
ROUND TWO: Both fighters pick up where they left off the last round. Both landing big shots and Gonzalez lands a head kick. Gillespie shoots in and plants Gonzalez on the mat. Gillespie works from side control. He passes guard and mounts Gonzalez. Gillespie looks for an arm triangle choke. It looks tight and Gonzalez taps.
Result: Gregor Gillespie over Jason Gonzalez by Submission – Arm Triangle (2:11 of Round 2)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: Wow, that is the fight of the night thus far. Both guys came here looking for a fight. The take downs of Gillespie were the difference. They were both landing on the feet, but ultimately it was the wrestling of Gillespie that won him the fight. Kudos to Jason Gonzalez, what a gutsy performance against the heavily favored Gillespie.
(8) Hector Lombard (34-7-1, 2 NC) vs. Anthony Smith (27-12) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Smith lands two right hands as the fight starts. Smith is mixing it up with kicks and punches well. He is doing a good job keeping range. Lombard looks to close distance and throws some wild haymakers that Smith tries to avoid but yet goes to his knees in defense. Lombard lands hard punches with Smith covering up on his knees. Smith is able to get back to his feet and they stand at center with just over three minutes to go. Lombard lands some heavy leg kicks. Lombard is showing great offense and letting his hands go. Lombard goes back to leg kicks. Smith’s lead leg is getting chewed up. Lombard scores with a nice right hand. Lombard is doing an excellent job at closing distance and letting his hands go.
ROUND TWO: Lombard opens up with more leg kicks. Smith goes for a flying knee but just misses with the timing on it. Lombard lands a combination but Smith covers up well. Smith isn’t using his reach and length to his advantage. Lombard is getting in and landing his offense with ease. Lombard takes Smith’s back as they stand against the fence. Lombard looks to be taking a breather as he holds onto Smith against the fence. The action definitely slowed in this round. Smith lands a nice right hand on the break. Smith lands another right hand that looks to stagger Lombard and Smith gets a take down. The round ends with Smith trying to better his position.
ROUND THREE: Smith comes out with more aggression to start the final round. He lands a big knee. Smith looks to be picking up the pace and using his jab more here in the third round. Smith doing a much better job with range. Lombard is missing with his punches much more in this round. Lombard continues to press forward and lands a leg kick. Smith with a big combination lands flush and drops Lombard with 2:30 to go. Smith pounces and lands tow more right hands to a downed Hector Lombard who looks to be out and the fight is stopped.
Result: Anthony Smith over Hector Lombard by TKO (2:33 of Round 3)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: Three consecutive knockout victories for Smith. He got off to a slow start but Smith got better as the fight went on. He used his range better in the third round and was able to pick Lombard apart leading to the finish. Nice performance from Anthony Smith finishing a former champion.
(9) Mike Perry (10-1) vs. Alex Reyes (13-2) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Perry comes out and presses Reyes. Perry walking Reyes down lands a big knee and he follows with a big right hand that sends Reyes reeling. Reyes clinches as Perry lands a big elbow. Perry is getting the better of the exchanges with his back against the cage. A big knee lands for Perry that crumbles Reyes and Perry lands one more hammer fist before the ref can cover Reyes.
Result: Mike Perry over Alex Reyes by Knockout ( 1:19 of Round 1)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: Perry calls out Robbie Lawler after the fight. Perry just walked through everything Reyes threw at him looking for the knockout. Not mush to say, Perry does what he does. All eleven wins by knockout. Hats off to Reyes for taking the fight on short notice, but he was just completely over matched.
(10) Luke Rockhold (15-3) vs. David Branch (21-3) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Branch takes the center of the octagon. Rockhold goes to the body early. Branch runs Rockhold to the fence and lands a few knees. Rockhold pushes him off and they stand at center cage. Branch keeping the pressure on as he chases Rockhold around the cage. Branch lands a multiple right hands that stuns Rockhold against the fence. Rockhold looks hurt and he grabs onto Branch with 3:50 to go. Branch lands a take down, but Rockhold is up quickly. It appears Rockhold has shaken off the right hands from Branch. They jockey for position along the cage and they trade knees in the clinch. They separate with 2:33 left. Branch runs Rockhold to the other side of the cage and lands knees in the clinch. Branch continues to apply a ton of pressure. He is doing a great job of taking away Rockhold’s kicks. They separate with 1:37 left to go in the round. Back to center. With under a minute to go Rockhold seems to be gauging the distance better. They clinch against the cage with under thirty seconds to go and trade knees and punches. Rockhold lands a take down with twenty seconds left. The round ends with Rockhold on top.
ROUND TWO: Branch continues his forward pressure to start the second round and eats a kick followed by a punch. Branch lunges forward and lands a right and follows with a kick to the body of Rockhold forty seconds into the round. They trade low kicks. Rockhold keeps switching stances as Branch moves forward. They look to better their position in the clinch against the cage. Rockhold has a body lock against the fence and lands a take down. Rock immediately transitions to mount with two minutes to go. Branch gives up his back with 1:40 left. Rockhold now in full mount reigning down punches on Branch. After multiple punches to the head of Branch the ref stops it as Branch is unable to defend himself.
Result: Luke Rockhold over David Branch by Submission due to strikes (4:05 of Round 2)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: A great performance from Rockhold. He got off to a slow start possibly losing the first round, but he dominated the second half of round two. Branch was doing well when he was applying pressure on the feet but once it went to the ground it was all Rockhold. This is a big win for Luke Rockhold and it looks like he’s a contender again in the division.
In the post fight interview he says calls out GSP telling him he doesn’t belong in the division and that he’s going to get crushed. He tells him to back out of the (Bisping) fight while he still can because it’s his (Rockhold) fight. He ends the interview by asking GSP to not embarrass himself and back out because it’s his fight.
While I don’t expect GSP to back out of the fight against Bisping, the fact that he’s fighting for the middleweight title is ridiculous. Personally, I’d much rather see Rockhold vs. Bisping.
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