Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold hasn’t fought since relinquishing the belt to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016. He was expected to fight in November, but was forced out the schedule rematch with Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza due to injury. Since then, Rockhold has had trouble booking an opponent.
He’ll face former World Series of Fighting dual-division champion David Branch at UFC Fight Night 116 on Sept. 16 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Branch is ranked ninth in the 185-pound division and is riding an 11-fight winning streak. Still, the former UFC champion wanted a bigger named opponent, but wasn’t willing to wait any longer before getting back in the cage.
“What it comes down to is I can’t wait anymore. I had the thought process of waiting for that fight in June against Anderson Silva in Rio. He wouldn’t take the fight. Then they moved on to Gegard Mousasi. Gegard Mousasi, they couldn’t get him to sign the fight,” Rockhold said during an appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday.
“No one would take a fight, and now we’ve come down to David Branch. He’s the only guy in the top 10 that would take the fight.”
Sidelined for the last 15 months, Rockhold is eager to get back to doing what he does. He’s heading into the fight with Branch looking to remind people what he’s capable of doing.
“I’m excited to fight. It’s been too long,” he said. “I’m glad to get back in there and show what I’m all about.”